Aqilion secures strategic research alliance with Merck worth up to EUR 950 million for their TAK1 kinase inhibitor program

Feb 23, 2023

We are delighted to share the news of the recent success of Aqilion, who secured an exclusive license and strategic research collaboration with Merck. The deal is worth up to EUR 950 million for their pre-clinical TAK1 inhibitor program. TAK1 is one of the central mediators in the inflammation process. Targeting this protein could offer new treatments for a broad range of autoimmune and inflammatory disease indications.

SARomics Biostructures and Red Glead Discovery supported Aqilion early on in the TAK1 project. Successful application of structure-based drug design, compound synthesis and evaluation were performed to develop these first-in-class kinase inhibitors. The positive outcome was made possible through close cooperation with Aqilion’s chemistry team, who had a very clear idea on how to drive this project forward from the start. In the end, the successful hit-to-lead program led to the development of novel patented first-in-class TAK1 inhibitors.

With two out of the three partners present on the same site, an integrated approach and a fast design-make-test-analyse cycle were made possible, which saved time and increased efficiency. We are fortunate and proud to have been a part of Aqilion’s early journey on this project. Big congratulations to the Aqilion team for this important achievement. We hope for a successful progression of the compounds through the clinical phase so that they can make an impact for patients. It is also good to see that innovative early-stage drug discovery is on the rise in Skåne (Medicon Valley, Greater Copenhagen region, the Öresund region).