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BioCentury Innovations
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As published Thursday, April 28, 2016

By Selina Koch, Staff Writer

Harvard University's $20 million licensing deal with Merck & Co. Inc in March for a preclinical cancer therapy brought in more cash in one swoop than the university's tech transfer office saw in all of 2015. While the sum might remain atypical, the deal validated the virtual biotech model many institutions are adopting to advance their programs beyond the traditional limits of academic labs, and showed how willing pharmas are becoming to bid aggressively on the more mature academic assets.

The deal gives Merck an exclusive worldwide license to preclinical small molecule inhibitors of enzymes that regulate transcription to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and other cancers, and Merck will be responsible for development and commercialization. In addition to the $20 million upfront payment, Harvard is eligible for undisclosed development and commercialization milestones, plus tiered royalties.