Pharma Focus Asia

Aligos Enters into an Exclusive License and Research Collaboration Agreement with Merck to Discover and Develop an Oligonucleotide Therapy for NASH

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Aligos Therapeutics, Inc. announced that it has entered into an Exclusive License and Research Collaboration Agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, under which Merck and Aligos will apply Aligos’ oligonucleotide platform technology to discover, research, optimize and develop oligonucleotides directed against a non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) target and up to one additional target of interest in the cardiometabolic/fibrosis space.

“We have assembled a team of scientists and medical professionals with significant experience in oligonucleotide-based drug discovery and we have developed a proprietary oligonucleotide chemistry platform that has broad applicability across diverse therapeutic areas,” said Lawrence Blatt, Ph.D., MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Aligos. “Given the imperative to find new innovative treatments for NASH, a chronic liver disease that can progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, we are pleased to collaborate with Merck to advance the development of potentially effective therapeutic regimens.”

Aligos is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel therapeutics to address unmet medical needs in liver diseases, including chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and NASH. The company has extensive expertise and resources necessary to develop oligonucleotide candidates for liver diseases, including STOPS™ molecules as well as antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) candidates in development for Aligos’ program in CHB.

“NASH continues to represent a serious unmet need and will likely require multiple targeted therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. Ajay Chawla, Vice President, Cardiometabolic Disease Discovery, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with the scientists at Aligos to apply their novel oligonucleotide-based platform.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Aligos will receive an upfront payment from Merck as well as an additional payment upon designation of a second target for the collaboration. With respect to each collaboration target, Aligos will be eligible for up to $458M in development and commercialization milestones as well as tiered royalties on net sales. Aligos will be primarily responsible for designing, preparing and evaluating the oligonucleotide molecules and delivering optimized lead molecules, and Merck will be responsible for subsequent research, clinical development and commercialization efforts.

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