Mer­ck dives deep­er in­to KRAS, team­ing up with Tai­ho, As­tex to de­vel­op small mol­e­cule drugs

As the race — led by Am­gen — to sub­due the no­to­ri­ous KRAS onco­gene heats up in the ear­ly clin­i­cal space, Mer­ck has de­cid­ed it’s not enough to re­ly on their flag­ship PD-1 or the mR­NA shared anti­gen vac­cine they’re de­vel­op­ing with Mod­er­na.

The phar­ma gi­ant is bet­ting on a slate of pre­clin­i­cal small mol­e­cule can­di­dates from Japan’s Tai­ho and As­tex in the UK (the lat­ter is a sub­sidiary of Ot­su­ka Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal) that tar­get, among sev­er­al oth­ers, KRAS. Al­to­geth­er, Tai­ho and As­tex will re­ceive a com­bined $50 mil­lion up­front with $2.5 bil­lion in biobucks to look for­ward to.

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