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Merck, Celera Extend Osteoporosis Drug Discovery Deal

NEW YORK, Dec. 12 – Celera Genomics and Merck said Wednesday that they had agreed to extend their osteoporosis drug discovery deal for a sixth year.

This is the fourth extension for the research collaboration. The original deal dates back to November 1996 when Celera’s South San Francisco operations, then Axys Pharmaceuticals, penned a two-year drug discovery deal with Merck.

The companies are working to develop small molecule inhibitors of cathepsin K, a cysteine protease target that is believed to play a role in osteoporosis.

In February 1997, Axys published the three-dimensional crystal structure of cathepsin K. The collaboration developed in vivo proof of concept in an animal model of osteoporosis in 1999. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Last month Celera acquired Axys Pharmaceuticals in the hopes of using its chemical libraries of small molecules and its experience in structural and medicinal chemistry to further its drug discovery efforts.
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