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Celera Licenses Oncology Targets to Merck; Retains Theranostics Rights

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Celera said today that it has signed an exclusive, two-year licensing deal with Merck, under which the pharmaceutical giant will have access to up to 10 cancer targets discovered by Celera using its proteomics discovery platform.
The Alameda, Calif.-based subsidiary of Applera said that Merck would use the targets to develop RNAi-based therapeutics.
Celera retains rights under the pact to develop and commercialize related companion diagnostics that are specific to Merck’s therapeutic candidates. Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed, but Celera said that Merck would pay it a license fee, milestone payments based on development and commercialization goals, and royalties on selected targets.
Merck acquired RNAi drug developer Sirna Therapeutics for roughly $1.1 billion in cash at the end of 2006. Just a couple months before that deal, it also licensed rights to ExonHit Therapeutics’ RNA splicing microarray patent.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.