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Merck & Co., Inc.
Drug Names(s): V934/V935
Description: V934/V935 is a non-dendritic cell based cancer vaccine candidate targeting telomerase. The candidate vaccine is based on Vical's DNA gene delivery technology and encodes human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). V934 is delivered using electroporation; V935 is used alone or as a boost to a V934 + electroporation prime injection.
Telomerase activity is essential for the indefinite replicative capacity that enables malignant cell growth. The telomerase protein is highly expressed in many cancers, but is absent or expressed only transiently at low levels in most normal cells.
Deal Structure: In July 2005, Geron announced it entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Merck & Co. which provides Merck with exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize non-dendritic cell based vaccines targeting telomerase.
Under the terms of the agreement, Geron will receive an upfront payment, milestone payments upon achievement of certain development and regulatory events, and royalties. Merck has also agreed to acquire equity in Geron at a future date as part of Gerons next round of financing. Additional financial terms were not disclosed.
The financial details of the relationship between Merck and Inovio (for licensing the delivery technology) are undisclosed. Merck paid a $2M milestone payment in December 2007, triggered by the filing of an IND. The deal includes additional milestone payments, development fees, royalties, and a supply agreement based on progression of the program.
Partners: Geron Corporation Vical, Inc. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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