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Merck, Pfizer, Lilly Form New Company to Speed Development of Drug-Discovery Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Merck & Co., Pfizer, and Eli Lilly said today that they have partnered with PureTech Ventures to create a new firm called Enlight Biosciences that will focus on the development of new drug-discovery technologies. 
The three pharmas and PureTech have ponied up a total of $39 million that Enlight will direct toward “breakthrough technologies that can fundamentally alter drug discovery and development.”
Enlight is focused on “pre-competitive” technology that will “connect preclinical research, clinical development, and medical practice,” according to a company statement.
The company noted that despite the recent emergence of “vital enabling technologies” such as PCR, PET, RNAi, and gene microarrays, “over the last few years most traditional life science investors have focused their funding on late-stage therapeutic programs.”
As a result, Enlight said, “important technologies that could be of great strategic impact to the pharmaceutical industry are not being commercialized.”
Enlight said it has already begun technology-development programs in the areas of molecular imaging, biologics, and drug delivery, and is planning to launch programs in other areas.
The company’s website lists a range of “areas of interest” under the categories of imaging and biomarkers, safety and toxicology, predictive models, chemistry and biochemistry, synthesis and production, formulation and delivery, and biologic platforms.
In the “biomarker” category, for example, Enlight is interested in developing “systems biology/multi-marker patterns, protein/antibody arrays, label-free binding assay methods, [and] platforms for patient segmentation.”
Rod MacKenzie, senior vice president of Pfizer Global R&D, said in a statement that the effort should help develop “breakthrough technologies” that will enable innovation in biopharmaceutical science, which he described as “an urgent priority” for drug-makers.

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