Research and Markets - Merck Pay USD 20 Million for Harvard Team's Cancer Drug

Mar 22, 2016, 10:27 ET from Research and Markets

DUBLIN, March 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

American pharmaceutical giant Merck has paid USD 20 million for a cancer drug created by a team of scientists at Harvard. The payment is the highest upfront cash payment Harvard has ever received from a pharma licensing deal, and the Harvard team is expected to collect milestone payments and tiered royalties in the future. The global market for cancer vaccines is expected to reach a value of USD 8.4 billion by 2020, according to a report available from Research and Markets, but this value could be higher if pharma companies continue to invest in academic-industry licenses. 

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The team, headed by Harvard chemical biologist Matthew Shair, has reportedly developed a set of minute molecule chemical compounds able to bind with a biological target, allowing for the treatment of cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia. The team has been working on the program for four years with financial support coming from Harvard's Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator. Harvard has yet to reveal how close the program is to starting clinical trials.

The global immunotherapy drugs market will grow at a CAGR of 12.8% by 2020, as forecast in an industry report. The report notes that technological advancements and high efficacy are the cause of this steady growth, two things the Harvard team will be able to avail of thanks to the R&D capabilities of Merck. 

Major pharmaceutical and biotech companies are increasingly outsourcing as means to fill discovery pipelines, as discussed in a recent drug discovery report. The pharma industry benefits from the innovation and expertise of the research teams, while the teams gain access to extensive resources and financial support. This partnership trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

For further information on this topic, and a full list of all related documentation, please visit the Pharmaceuticals section at


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