Merck announced the acquisition of Rigontec, founded in 2014 as a spin-out of the University Bonn, Germany, a pioneer company in accessing the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway. According to the company, Merck will pay €115 million upfront cash, plus further payments up to €349 million based on the attainment of certain clinical, development, regulatory and commercial milestones. Lead candidate, RGT100, is currently in Phase I development in patients with various tumors. Rigontec’s proprietary agonists specifically activate RIG-I, inducing both immediate and long-term anti-tumor immunity and have proven substantial local and systemic tumor regression in several relevant in vivo models. In addition to malignant diseases, proprietary RNA molecules can be developed for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases.
Merck also announced the agreement to acquire Natrix Separations, a Canada-based provider of hydrogel membrane products for single-use chromatography. The transaction is expected to close in Q3 2017. Natrix’s unique technology platform is capable of delivering high productivity and impurity removal in a single-use format and it will complement Merck’s efforts to drive next- generation bioprocessing, ultimately enabling faster, more efficient technology for its customers.