Merck Serono and Compugen have established a new firm called Neviah Genomics to focus on the discovery and development of biomarkers for predicting drug-induced toxicity. Neviah will operate out of Merck Serono’s recently opened Israel Bioincubator, with initial financial backing from Merck Serono Ventures. Israel-based Compugen will grant the startup access to its computational discovery platforms for developing toxicogenomic diagnostics, in return for receiving an equity stake in Neviah and royalties from future sales. Neviah’s developed tests will be used for predicting drug-induced toxicity and integrated into a biomarker platform for drug discovery and prioritiziation.
The agreement follows on from a collaboration between Merck Serono and Compugen, signed in 2009, to identify biomarker signatures for drug-induced toxicity. Establishment of Neviah also represents the first investment within the framework of Merck Serono’s recently established Israel Bioincubator program, and will be housed at facilities opened just last month at Merck Serono’s Israeli R&D center Inter-Lab.
“We are honored to be the first Israeli company to benefit from the establishment of Merck Serono’s Israel Bioincubator,” comments Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., Compugen president and CEO. “The formation of Neviah Genomics on a ‘discovery on demand’ basis enables Compugen to both continue its focus on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins in the fields of immunology and oncology, and provide potential future benefits for our shareholders from our equity interest in Neviah and royalties from future product sales.”
Compugen is leveraging a platform of predictive and other computational platforms to generate a pipeline of protein and monoclonal antibody drugs for immunology and oncology, and through discovery on demand partnerships and collaborations. At the end of last year the firm announced plans to expand its mAb activities, as a result of which in March it established operations in California to focus on the development of mAb therapeutics against Compugen-discovered targets.