Merck Serono, a division of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, and Compugen Ltd. ( NASDAQ: CGEN) today announced the establishment of Neviah Genomics, a novel start-up company focused on the discovery and development of novel biomarkers for the prediction of drug-induced toxicity. Neviah Genomics will be operating out of the Merck Serono Israel Bioincubator. Merck Serono Ventures will provide the initial funding for Neviah Genomics. Compugen will utilize certain proprietary predictive discovery technologies and receive an equity ownership in the new company and a right to royalties from potential future sales. Further financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Neviah Genomics represents the first investment within the framework of the recently formed Merck Serono Israel Bioincubator program. As such, Neviah Genomics will operate out of the state-of-the-art facilities inaugurated last month at Merck Serono’s Israeli R&D center Inter-Lab, which offers 600 square meters of infrastructure and a wide range of incubation services for the program's new start-ups.
This agreement follows a successful collaboration between Merck Serono and Compugen for the discovery of "biomarker signatures" for drug induced toxicity during 2009. Merck Serono and Compugen believe that establishment of Neviah Genomics with the combined capabilities of the two companies could satisfy the growing market need for products to predict toxicity profiles of lead drug candidates at an early stage of development, thereby minimizing attrition and mitigating risk of late-stage drug failure.
Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., President and CEO of Compugen said, “Following our prior successful collaboration with Merck Serono, we are very pleased to expand this relationship and enter into this new and exciting partnership. We are honored to be the first Israeli company to benefit from the establishment of Merck Serono's Israel Bioincubator and look forward to taking our partnership to the next level.” Dr. Cohen-Dayag continued, “Furthermore, the formation of Neviah Genomics on a 'discovery on demand' basis enables Compugen to both continue its focus on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins in the fields of immunology and oncology, and provide potential future benefits for our shareholders from our equity interest in Neviah and royalties from future product sales.”