Xenon could net nearly $200M in cardiovascular deal with Merck

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Xenon has formed a strategic alliance with Merck to discover and develop new small molecule candidates for the potential treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has the option to exclusively license targets and compounds from Xenon for development and commercialization. In return, Xenon receives research funding and is eligible for option exercise fees, research, development and regulatory milestone payments of up to $94.5 million for the first target and up to $89.5 million for each subsequent target selected for drug discovery.

In addition, the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck has agreed to pay Xenon undisclosed royalties on sales of products resulting from the collaboration.

Xenon will perform validation studies using its clinical genetics platform, as well as drug discovery and select preclinical development of small molecule compounds for those targets selected by a joint steering committee. Xenon also will retain the right to develop and commercialize certain compounds for which Merck does not exercise its option, according to Simon Pimstone, president and CEO of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Xenon.

"With this deal, Xenon is continuing its strategy of risk mitigation by select partnering, while retaining ownership of other programs," said Pimstone.