Merck Serono, a division of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, and Compugen Ltd.
CGEN) today announced the establishment of Neviah Genomics, a novel
start-up company focused on the discovery and development of novel
biomarkers for the prediction of drug-induced toxicity. Neviah Genomics
will be operating out of the Merck Serono Israel Bioincubator. Merck
Serono Ventures will provide the initial funding for Neviah Genomics.
Compugen will utilize certain proprietary predictive discovery
technologies and receive an equity ownership in the new company and a
right to royalties from potential future sales.
Neviah Genomics represents the first investment within the framework of
the recently formed Merck Serono Israel Bioincubator program. As such,
Neviah Genomics will operate out of the state-of-the-art facilities
inaugurated last month at Merck Serono's Israeli R&D center Inter-Lab,
which offers 600 square meters of infrastructure and a wide range of
incubation services for the program's new start-ups.
This agreement follows a successful collaboration between Merck Serono
and Compugen for the discovery of "biomarker signatures" for drug
induced toxicity during 2009. Merck Serono and Compugen believe that
establishment of Neviah Genomics with the combined capabilities of the
two companies could satisfy the growing market need for products to
predict toxicity profiles of lead drug candidates at an early stage of
development, thereby minimizing attrition and mitigating risk of
late-stage drug failure.
Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., President and CEO of Compugen said, "Following
our prior successful collaboration with Merck Serono, we are very
pleased to expand this relationship and enter into this new and exciting
partnership. We are honored to be the first Israeli company to benefit
from the establishment of Merck Serono's Israel Bioincubator and look
forward to taking our partnership to the next level." Dr. Cohen-Dayag
continued, "Furthermore, the formation of Neviah Genomics on a
'discovery on demand' basis enables Compugen to both continue its focus
on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins in the
fields of immunology and oncology, and provide potential future benefits
for our shareholders from our equity interest in Neviah and royalties
from future product sales."
"Neviah Genomics is a perfect illustration of our goals behind the
establishment of the Israel Biotech Incubator: to leverage Israeli
science and know-how and get access to novel products and technologies
for the benefit of Merck Serono's core therapeutic areas," said Susan
Herbert, Executive Vice President, Global Business Development and
Strategy at Merck Serono. "In this regard, we are delighted to be
collaborating on our first investment with Compugen, one of the premier
biotech companies in Israel and a world leading predictive drug
discovery company. We believe that our joint technology and resources
represent a unique basis for a start-up to enter this emerging field
that has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of drug
discovery and development."
Neviah Genomics will benefit from Compugen's sophisticated proprietary
computational discovery platforms to develop advanced toxicogenomics
diagnostic tests. Developed tests will be used for the prediction of
drug-induced toxicity and integrated into a biomarker platform to
support the prioritization and development of drug product candidates.