Unnatural Products, Inc. Enters Research Collaboration with Merck

Merck to leverage UNP’s cell permeability capabilities

Santa Cruz, Calif., Jan. 23, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Unnatural Products, Inc. (UNP), a biotech company pairing AI with chemistry to enable the next generation of molecularly targeted therapeutics, today announced a collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to apply UNP’s technology to design and develop macrocyclic candidates against an oncology therapeutic target.

“This collaboration with Merck leverages macrocycles against one of the most challenging oncology targets and is a testament to the progress we have made in intracellular targeting and the importance of finding new ways to tackle the high-hanging fruit in oncology,” said Cameron Pye, CEO and Co-Founder. “Merck has long been at the forefront of leading-edge science, and we are encouraged by what we will be able to accomplish together.”

Under the terms of the agreement, UNP will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and will be eligible for milestone payments of up to approximately $220 million associated with the development and commercialization of a candidate product.

“Merck continues to leverage our strong medicinal chemistry capabilities to advance our oncology pipeline,” said Rob Garbaccio, vice president and head, discovery chemistry, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with the Unnatural Products team to develop candidates towards this challenging oncology target.”

Nature’s solution to hard targets: Macrocycles

Macrocycles and cyclic peptides offer an opportunity to radically expand the druggable genome. Naturally derived macrocycles have been used as essential medicines across a variety of indications for decades. Their larger size and favorable drug-like properties allow macrocycles to hit intracellular targets too complex for small molecules or replicate the potency and selectivity of antibodies in an oral dosage form.

To address the panoply of targets that have been entirely off limits to previous approaches or have only yielded to injectable antibody and biologic strategies, UNP leverages a parallel chemistry and AI-driven platform that imbues targeted and designed synthetic macrocycles with the favorable drug-likeness of evolved macrocycles found in nature.

About Unnatural Products, Inc.

Unnatural Products, Inc. (UNP) is a California-based biotech company whose platform addresses the complexities of medicinal chemistry in the macrocycle space through a combination of parallel experimentation and machine learning. Founded by macrocycle pioneers whose academic work uncovered how Nature’s macrocycles work, UNP is a team of passionate scientists and engineers. UNP is privately held and funded by ARTIS Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Asset Management Ventures, Better Ventures, Blue Bear Ventures, Merck's MSD GHI fund, Rising Tide Fund, First Spark Ventures, The Venture Collective, Humain Ventures, LongeVC, Gaingels, and Not Boring Capital. For updates and partnering opportunities, contact contact@unnaturalproducts.com.



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