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Harvard Medical signs agreement with Merck to develop potential therapy for macular degeneration

BOSTON, MA Harvard Medical School announced today that is has signed a multimillion-dollar license agreement with Merck & Co., Inc. to develop potential therapies for macular degeneration, an eye disease that affects older people and can lead to blindness. The agreement provides Merck, through an affiliate, with licenses to specific molecules that could ultimately slow the production of toxic by-products that form in the eye and that have been implicated in some forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt Disease, a juvenile form of blindness. The agreement also establishes a research collaboration between Merck and Robert Rando, PhD, HMS Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and provides Merck, through an affiliate, with exclusive rights to Dr. Rando's intellectual property in this area.

"This agreement is an example of the kind of strategic partnerships that we like to build with an industrial partner to bring fundamental research forward as a potential new therapy," said Isaac T. Kohlberg, head of Harvard's technology development office. "By combining the licensing rights and the expertise behind the original findings, and partnering with a leading company such as Merck, we can advance this research into clinical development and application much faster than would otherwise be possible."

Under the terms of the agreement, Harvard will receive a $3 million up-front payment, significant milestone fees and downstream royalties on any marketed products that result from this agreement.

"We are delighted to partner with Harvard on the development of this potential breakthrough technology to treat dry AMD," said Dr. Robert Gould, Vice President Worldwide Licensing and External Research at Merck. "Merck has a long history of research and marketing in ophthalmology including the introduction of the first glaucoma therapy in 1958. This agreement demonstrates Merck's continuing commitment to treat major diseas
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Contact: John Lacey
public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0442
Harvard Medical School
23-May-2006


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