Merck awards grants to biotechs tackling cancer and cardiovascular disease

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced the winners of its Advance Biotech Grant program in Europe. The grant is given to small- and mid-size biotechnology companies that need funding and expertise to get their therapies to market. Applicants from emerging biotech companies across Europe were asked to describe their projects, the medical needs they solve, and process development challenges they face to be considered for the grant. Each grant recipient will receive between €50,000 and €100,000 in Merck products and services to help solve their challenges.

The three grant recipients are:

  • GenoScience Pharma (France), to explore new agents such as GNS561 — a never-before-used mechanism-of-action in commercialized cancer treatments / anti-cancer drugs in the pipeline.
  • GlioCure (France), for developing an anti-tumor and neuroprotective peptide, GC01, to treat the most frequent and aggressive type of brain tumor, glioblastoma.
  • ResoTher Pharma (Denmark), to develop new medicines for cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders.

“For decades, Merck’s process development and manufacturing experts have worked with drug manufacturers of all sizes to solve their challenges and bring life-enhancing drug therapies to market, faster,” said Udit Batra, member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science. “Through our Advance Biotech Grant Program, we are helping entrepreneurs around the world accelerate the commercialization of their molecules.”

GlioCure’s first product, GC01, is in the final stage of non-regulatory preclinical development for the treatment of glioblastoma which represents about 15 percent of all primary brain tumors.

“We are currently working on two different formulations to address resectable and non-resectable patients,” said Louis-Marie Bachelot, CEO and founder, GlioCure. “Thanks to the Advance Biotech Grant Program and Merck’s expertise and capacities, GC01’s path towards the clinic will, undoubtedly, be strongly accelerated.”

Merck selected the winning submissions based on the scientific and societal merit of therapy in development and process challenges and expertise gaps. The program is part of the company’s global biotech commitment to help bring therapies to market, leveraging decades of process development expertise products, and support at any production scale.

Merck began offering the grant program in 2014. The rotating program runs every six months, in either Europe, the U.S. or China. To date, Merck has awarded nearly €1 million in products and services from Merck to 17 biotech companies in these regions. Past European grant recipients include Germany-based GeneQuine Biotherapeutics, the UK’s ReNeuron and Magnus Life Science and TILT Biotherapeutics in Finland.

In addition to the Advance Biotech Grant, Merck recently named Kytopen as the winner of its biotech start-up program in the U.S. Massachusetts-based Kytopen won a sponsored residency at LabCentral, a first-of-its-kind shared laboratory space. As a resident, the biotech works to further develop its proprietary Flowfect technology for non-viral delivery of molecules into hard-to-transfect immune cells. Kytopen’s automated cell engineering platform allows new discoveries in biology that lead to cost-effective cell and gene therapies.