Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has entered into a licensing agreement with Cyclica Inc. for the use of Ligand Express, a structure-based and artificial intelligence (AI) augmented proteome screening platform. It has been used to uncover targets that are modeled to interact with a small molecule.
The yearlong agreement will allow Merck KGaA to explicate mechanisms of actions, evaluate safety profiles, and explore additional applications for its investigational small molecules.
A spokesperson for Merck told us, “We recognize that we cannot accomplish our goals alone and so our integrated R&D capacity is strongly supported by external innovation to complement our pipeline, strengthen our technology base, and enhance our scientific capabilities.”
Merck stated that agreements such as this are part of its R&D strategy and through access to new technologies the company can gain insights to enhance how it thinks about research and support its drug development process. The spokesperson added, “To do this, we need to take balanced risks.”
Cyclica’s platform deviates from the traditional development of small molecule therapies which can take up to a year, according to the company. Most often, development focuses on specific, disease-associated protein targets. Ligand Express uses a panoramic view of proteome for a given small molecule.
This technology can model the ways in which a small molecule will interact with all proteins, and identify both interactions that have a desirable effect on a certain disease as well as interactions that may cause an adverse effect, according to Cyclica.