Lab Canada

Merck Frosst and Gnome Qubec sign joint R&D agreement

Chicago, IL – Merck Frosst Canada and Gnome Qubec today announced the signing of a research agreement whereby each will invest $5.28 million over three years in the discovery and development of treatments for life-threatening fungal infections. The agreement was announced during the BIO 2006 annual international meeting.

In addition to its $5.28 million investment, Merck Frosst has pledged nearly $10 million in additional research funding for a total joint investment of nearly $20 million. Merck has been conducting antifungal research since the 1970s.

In August 2004, Merck Frosst acquired certain assets related to fungal screening technology from Elitra Canada, formerly a Montreal-based biotech company. Terry Roemer, PhD, now senior research fellow at the center of fungal genetics at Merck Frosst and his colleagues Drs Deming Xu, senior research biologist and Bo Jiang, research fellow, were the first research team to have won two Gnome Qubec/Gnome Canada competitions for their research into antifungal infections.

The partnership leverages the local research efforts in antifungal medicines by further developing and using core technologies in conjunction with Merck’s antifungal discovery efforts. The agreement will lead to the creation of an additional 10 research positions at Merck Frosst.

Andr Marcheterre, president of Merck Frosst, says the investment reaffirms Merck Frosst’s commitment to R&D and underscores the company’s confidence in the future, despite current challenges in the pharmaceutical industry.

“Qubec scientists and institutions are at the forefront of leading-edge research, and we would like to continue to create important strategic alliances with organizations that share common goals,” he says.

Dr Xu and his colleagues have developed a novel genomics-based strategy for improving early-stage antifungal drug-discovery practices. “We hope our research approach will deliver a diverse collection of novel molecules with significant antifungal drug development potential”, he says.