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News Release

May 30, 2019
Your Contact:
Gangolf.schrimpf@merckgroup.com
Phone: +49 6151 72-9591

Merck Awards Grants to Biotechs Focused on Traumatic Brain Injury, Vaccine Development and Chronic Pain

  • Three U.S. companies awarded Merck’s Advance Biotech Grant to advance molecule-to-market efforts

Darmstadt, Germany, May 30, 2019 — Merck today announced the winners of its Advance Biotech Grant program in North America during its Biotech Start-up Summit at the Cambridge Innovation Center (Massachusetts, U.S.). The grant is given to small- and mid-size biotechnology companies that need funding and expertise to get their therapies to market.

“With more than 60 percent of drugs in the pipeline today being developed by biotechs, we are committed to supporting these start-ups in developing groundbreaking therapeutics,” said Udit Batra, member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science. “Our global grant program provides free access to our process development expertise, products and services to help accelerate molecule-to-market efforts.”

The three grant recipients are:

  • RAFT Pharmaceuticals (San Diego, California, U.S.), for its approach to treat chronic pain using a biologic to selectively inhibit neuroinflammation without affecting normal motor or sensory function.
  • Rubicon Biotechnology (Anaheim, California, U.S.), for developing a therapeutic protein, Fv-Hsp72, designed to protect and salvage cells damaged from an acute event, such as traumatic brain injury.
  • TechnoVax Inc. (Elmsford, New York, U.S.), for developing a virus-like particle platform that facilitates the development and production of a range of vaccines targeting the prevention of respiratory diseases, hemorrhagic fevers, immunodeficiency and cancers.

Applicants from biotech companies across U.S. and Canada were asked to describe their projects, the medical needs they solve and process development challenges they face to be considered for the grant. In support of the growing biotech ecosystem, grant recipients receive between $40,000 and $100,000 in Merck products and process development support.

“Rubicon is honored to have been selected as a winner in the Advance Biotech Grant,” said Richard Richieri, president of Rubicon Biotechnology. “Under the resources provided by this grant, we intend to develop a robust and scalable downstream process to purify our pre-clinical recombinant protein, Fv-Hsp72, by utilizing the various chromatography resins and filters offered by Merck. Our objective is to use a bench-scale version of our process from bioreactor to drug substance for our in vitro and in vivo studies that will mimic our subsequent large-scale GMP process.”

Merck selected the winning submissions based on the scientific and societal merit of therapy in development and process challenges and expertise gaps. The program is part of the company’s global biotech commitment to help bring therapies to market, leveraging decades of process development expertise, products, and support at any production scale. Additionally, Merck’s BioReliance® End-to-End Services can address key challenges for biotech companies at all stages of molecule development and commercialization in any geography.

Merck began the grant program in 2014. The rotating program runs every six months, in Europe, North America or Asia. To date, Merck has awarded more than €800,000 in products and services to 20 biotech companies in these regions. Earlier this year, our grants supported companies in Europe in tackling glioblastoma brain tumors and cardiovascular disease. Biotech companies in Asia with a molecule in development should apply before August 15, 2019 for the next round of grant funding.

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About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 52,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – Merck is everywhere. In 2018, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany generated sales of €14.8 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.