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Merck Serono, Compugen to Form Toxicity Biomarkers Start-Up

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Merck Serono, a division of the global pharmaceutical company Merck in Geneva, Switzerland and the drug discovery company Compugen in Tel Aviv, Israel have agreed to form Neviah Genomics, a new enterprise to develop biomarkers for the prediction of drug-induced toxicity. While some financial arrangements were revealed, the total value of the deal was not disclosed.

Neviah Genomics, say the companies, will focus on the growing need for biomarker-related methods of predicting toxicity profiles of drug candidates at an early stage of development. These methods can help drug developers minimize attrition and mitigate the risk of late-stage drug failure.

Neviah Genomics is expected to operate in a bioincubator program out of Merck Serono’s Israeli R&D center that opened last month. The new enterprise  is the first company in the bioincubator program.

Merck Serono, Merck’s biopharmaceutical division, and Compugen collaborated earlier on biomarker signatures for drug induced toxicity. In the new collaboration, Merck Serono Ventures will provide the initial funding for Neviah Genomics.

“Neviah Genomics is a perfect illustration of our goals behind the establishment of the Israel Biotech Incubator,” says Susan Herbert, executive vice president at Merck Serono, “to leverage Israeli science and know-how and get access to novel products and technologies for the benefit of Merck Serono’s core therapeutic areas.”

Neviah Genomics will receive access to Compugen’s computational discovery platforms to develop genomics-based diagnostic tests for toxicity. Compugen will receive an equity stake in Neviah Genomics and a right to royalties from potential future sales.

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