Merck & Co. (MRK) Bets $450 Million on Bay Area’s NGM

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New Jersey-headquartered biopharmaceutical company Merck & Co. (MRK) announced today that it has entered a multi-year collaboration to research, discover, develop and commercialize biologic therapies with NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately-owned biotechnology company. The deal is worth approximately $450 million.

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NGM has developed a uniquely powerful research program that has permitted identification of novel, and quite consequential, pathways for metabolic regulation,” said Roger Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories. “Through this new collaboration, we hope to apply Merck’s well-established translational capabilities to advance innovative biologics that address the needs of patients suffering from diabetes, metabolic dysregulation, and malignancy.”

The collaboration will include drug candidates that are already in preclinical development at NGM, including NP201, which is being examined for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Merck will have the option to license the resulting NGM programs after human proof of concept trials are conducted.

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“We are very pleased to establish this alliance with Merck, which will be transformational for NGM, providing us with the resources and flexibility to pursue our ambitious research and development goals while preserving our unique drug discovery culture,” said William Rieflin, chief executive officer of NGM. “We look forward to working with Merck to generate a robust pipeline of therapies with the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of patients.”

NGM’s lead drug candidate, NGM282, is currently in clinical development for the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis and NASH. This product is not subject to the option underMerck’s collaboration deal with the company.

Examining the Work of NGM
NGM Biopharmaceuticals was originally founded back in 2008. Since then, it has been focused on the discovery of transformational biologics for the treatment of cardio-metabolic diseases, hepatic diseases and cancer. The company has strategic partnerships with companies including MedImmune MedImmune (AZN)/AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc..

NGM282, the company’s lead candidate, is a pharmaceutically optimized form of FGF19, a first-in-class agent that can potentially mimic the curative effects of gastric bypass surgery on metabolic and bile acid-related diseases. In studies involving mice, NGM282 has shown that it can reduce blood glucose and body weight while improving blood sensitivity.

NGM282 is currently in Phase II clinical development for PBC. Additionally, the product has received Orphan Drug Designation in the U.S., as well as Fast Track Designation.

Author Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
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