AnalytiCon will apply its proprietary Megabolite technology to exploit a highly diverse set of more than 10,000 extracts from plants and microorganisms
AnalytiCon will provide Merck with natural product lead generation services until the end of 2009.
A key step in the process is the identification of organisms with high potential for the delivery of novel natural products by use of AnalytiCon's chemodiversity profiling technology.
Initial hits will be most efficiently explored by combining the strengths of Merck's biology expertise with AnalytiCon's expertise in rapidly dereplicating, isolating and structurally identifying biologically active natural products and optionally delivering series of focused libraries for further testing.
Attractive lead compounds will be mutually developed through pre-clinical research, one part of which will be a robust protocol to supply the partners with multi milligram-amounts of the particular biologically active natural products in order to perform hit-to-lead optimisation cycles on an as-needed basis.
"The agreement is an important milestone in our work of supporting pharma-industry efforts to re-introduce natural products into their drug discovery concepts.
"By making use of our world-class expertise and proprietary technologies, Merck will get a superior position enabling it to exploit nature's unrivaled diversity in the most systematic manner.
"We are looking forward to the collaborative effort that will deliver several lead structures for further development," stated Lutz Muller-Kuhrt, CEO of AnalytiCon.
"Merck acknowledges the key role of natural products in the oncology therapeutic area.
"Therefore, the discovery of new chemical entities via bio-guided isolation of natural products is a strategy that we wish to pursue in cooperation with AnalytiCon," said Peter Raddatz, president of NCE Technologies at Merck.
"We expect that AnalytiCon will enhance our in-house natural product programme and add further novelty to Merck's drug discovery projects."