Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
announced today that the company has signed two licensing agreements for
investigational HIV drug candidates. Additionally, the company announced
plans to initiate a Phase II study for a proprietary investigational
next generation non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, MK-1439.
"Despite the tremendous advances made over the past 20 years, there
remains considerable unmet need in the treatment of HIV infection," said
Robin D. Isaacs, M.D., vice president, infectious disease clinical
research, Merck Research Laboratories. "Merck remains committed to
improving on the standard of care for HIV therapy."
Merck signed a deal with Chimerix Inc. based in Research Triangle Park,
NC, for CMX157, an investigational oral nucleoside reverse transcriptase
inhibitor currently in Phase I clinical development. Under the
agreement, Merck will receive an exclusive worldwide license and will be
responsible for development and commercialization of CMX157.
Separately, the company signed an agreement with Yamasa Corporation
based in Choshi, Japan, to develop EFdA
(4'-ethynyl-2-fluoro-2'-deoxyadenosine), a novel nucleoside reverse
transcriptase inhibitor candidate that is in preclinical studies and has
shown antiviral activity toward highly resistant HIV strains. As part of
the agreement, Merck will pay an up-front fee and future milestone
payments in return for exclusive worldwide license rights. This
candidate was discovered in collaboration with a group led by the world
renowned HIV research scientist Dr. Hiroaki Mitsuya of Kumamoto
University's Center for AIDS Research in Japan.
In addition, Merck announced plans to advance into Phase IIb clinical
trial an internally developed candidate, MK-1439,
a next-generation non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. Merck
is initiating a dose-ranging clinical trial to evaluate the safety and
tolerability and efficacy of MK-1439 in HIV positive, treatment-naive
patients compared to efavirenz, both in combination with Truvada. The
trial is expected to commence in September. More information is
available at http://clinicaltrials.gov/
using Identifier: NCT01632345.