Mer­ck en­lists As­tex to search for p53 can­cer drug in ex­pand­ed deal

Mer­ck has ex­pand­ed its on­col­o­gy col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ot­su­ka sub­sidiary As­tex Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to the tune of a $35 mil­lion up­front pay­ment and po­ten­tial mile­stone pay­ments of $500 mil­lion per pro­gram.

As­tex will use its frag­ment-based drug dis­cov­ery plat­form to find small mol­e­cules to tar­get the p53 tu­mor sup­pres­sor pro­tein be­fore hand­ing off the po­ten­tial can­di­dates to Mer­ck for the fund­ing and re­search, de­vel­op­ment and po­ten­tial com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the mol­e­cules.

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