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Merck Acquires (Developer Of Selective Small Molecule Agonists to TRPML1) Calporta Therapeutics

By John F. Heerdink, Jr.

Merck & Co., Inc.  (MRK) is a global healthcare solutions provider that has been working towards bringing forward medicine and vaccines for some of the world’s most challenging diseases for more than a century.  They are committed to increasing health care access and continue to be at the leading edge of research. Merck has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research program.

Reportedly, Merck has acquired Calporta Therapeutics, Inc., a developer of selective small-molecule agonists to TRPML1 from La Jolla-based COI Pharmaceuticals-the Community Of Innovation which was established by Avalon Ventures. The acquisition announced last week, involved a total potential consideration of up to $576 million, including an upfront payment and future milestone payments.

“This agreement with Merck is an important milestone towards the rapid development of a novel therapeutic approach that could help millions of people with degenerative disorders caused by toxic accumulation of proteins, fats, or other cellular macromolecules. I am proud of the Calporta team for their expertise, execution, and diligence in swiftly advancing a new scientific breakthrough toward the clinic,” stated Sanford J. Madigan, Ph.D., CEO of Calporta and senior vice president, business development of COI Pharmaceuticals.

“Increasing evidence points to the accumulation of toxic proteins as a common mechanism in neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s. We look forward to conducting further research to evaluate the potential of TRPML1 agonists to activate a natural clearance mechanism the brain employs to clear toxic proteins,” stated Fiona Marshall, PhD., vice president, neuroscience discovery Merck Research Laboratories.

Calporta advances selective small molecule agonists to TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily). TRML is an important lysosomal ion channel and a known regulator of autophagy. Changes in TRPML1 function have been depicted in several neurodegenerative diseases and dystrophies, where the intracellular accumulation of proteins or fats have proven to be toxic to the cell and activation of TRPML1 could re-establish lysosomal processes and restore cellular function.

COI Pharmaceuticals is an unconventional venture-pharma entity that provides life science inventors with an environment where entrepreneurial and scientific risks are encouraged and rewarded. This Community of Innovation (COI) was established in 2013 to support Avalon portfolio companies. COI provides the intellectual capital to launch companies, a fully-equipped R&D infrastructure and industry mentors prepared to leverage their expertise to help entrepreneurial scientists succeed. COI is located in La Jolla, California. For more information, please visit http://www.coipharma.com/.

Avalon Ventures is a venture capital firm that has founded and/or funded more than 127 information technology and life sciences companies. The firm is passionate about backing talented entrepreneurs seeking to build market-leading companies. Throughout the firm’s 32-year tenure, Avalon’s long-standing and successful focus has been on seed and early-stage companies. All Avalon partners are seasoned entrepreneurs with experience in company formation, operations and value creation in the life science and tech sectors. Avalon’s current fund, launched in 2015, continues the firm’s tradition of pursuing disruptive ideas in ever-changing markets. For more information, please visit: http://www.avalon-ventures.com/

To learn more about Merck (MRK) and to track its ongoing progress please visit the Vista Partners Merck Coverage Page.

Vista Partners LLC (”Vista”) is a California Registered Investment Advisor based in San Francisco. Vista delivers timely and relevant insights via the website:www.vistapglobal.com with daily stories, weekly market updates, monthly macroeconomic newsletters, podcasts, & Vista’s proprietary equity and market research to help you stay informed and stay competitive. Vista’s mission is to invest partner capital while arming investors with a comprehensive global financial perspective across all market sectors. Vista also seeks to provide select issuers with actionable advice regarding fundamental development, corporate governance, and capital market directives.

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(Read Original Story: COI Pharmaceuticals Announces Acquisition of Calporta by Merck in Business Wire)


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