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Merck Serono adds Japan to Aurora kinase collaboration

Merck Serono exercises its option to add the Japanese territory to its current Aurora kinase collaboration which includes the lead product, R763/AS703569

Merck Serono, a division of German-based Merck KGaA, has exercised its option to add the Japanese territory to its current Aurora kinase collaboration which includes the lead product, R763/AS703569.

In exchange for these extended development and marketing rights, co-development partner US-based pharmaceutical company Rigel will receive a USD 3m payment.

In October 2005, the two companies entered into a worldwide collaboration, excluding Japan, to develop R763/AS703569 and other Aurora kinase inhibitors. As part of this agreement, Merck Serono had the right to add Japan to its territory.

R763/AS703569 is an oral, highly potent inhibitor of Aurora kinases and has exhibited anti-tumour activity against a broad range of cancer cell lines. To date, three phase I clinical trials with R763/AS703569, sponsored by Merck Serono, have been initiated and are ongoing in patients with solid tumors and leukemia.

If proven safe and efficacious, this regimen could dramatically alter the lives of patients with a variety of cancers including pancreatic, ovarian, breast, non-small cell lung and colorectal, as well as those with hematological malignancies.

Rigel's CEO Raul Rodriguez said: "Developing a novel, effective, oral therapeutic for cancer patients is the primary goal of our Aurora kinase collaboration with Merck Serono. We are proud that Merck Serono has re-affirmed its commitment to this programme."

30th September 2008

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