Royalty-free deal will allow IPM to investigate the compound as a vaginal gel or film in developing countries.

Merck & Co. will provide a royalty-free license to the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) to develop an antiretroviral compound for use as a vaginal microbicide.

The compound, called L’644, is a member of a class of antiretroviral molecules known as gp41 fusion inhibitors, which inhibit HIV infection by preventing the virus from fusing with the surface of target cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck grants IPM the rights to develop L’644 in developing countries. The firm will collaborate with IPM to advance early-stage development research efforts.

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