Debanjan Ray, Synthekine CEO

Mer­ck dives even fur­ther in­to cy­tokine re­search as deal spree con­tin­ues

Mer­ck’s new lead­er­ship hasn’t been shy about its de­sire to spend, agree­ing to drop $11.5 bil­lion on a new biotech and promis­ing to dole out more as the ex­pi­ra­tion date on the com­pa­ny’s mon­ey ma­chine slow­ly ap­proach­es.

On Mon­day, CEO Robert Davis and R&D chief Dean Li added an­oth­er deal, sign­ing on­to a well-backed Stan­ford spin­out’s new ap­proach to an old idea.

The NJ-based phar­ma agreed to co-de­vel­op a pair of new cy­tokine-based ther­a­pies with the 2-year-old biotech Syn­thekine. Al­though the deal doesn’t ap­pear to of­fer much up­front — the part­ners didn’t dis­close Mer­ck’s ini­tial pay­ment — it comes with $525 mil­lion in mile­stones per tar­get. One tar­get is al­ready se­lect­ed and Mer­ck has an op­tion to pick a sec­ond.

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