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Microbicide Developer Receives License for Novel HIV Microbicide Candidate From Merck & Co., Inc.
Date:3/11/2008

SILVER SPRING, Md., March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a boost to HIV prevention research, Merck & Co., Inc., has agreed to provide a royalty-free license to the non-profit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) to develop a novel antiretroviral compound for use as a potential 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, an early step in the HIV infection process, potentially representing a novel way to block infection.

This announcement follows a similar agreement with Merck that granted IPM a royalty-free license in 2005 to develop another compound, L'167/CMPD167, which belongs to the class of molecules known as CCR5 blockers.

Microbicides are products, such as gels or films, that could be applied vaginally to prevent HIV transmission during vaginal intercourse. IPM is also developing other delivery methods, such as long-lasting vaginal rings that would release the drug gradually over time.

"Merck deserves recognition for its exemplary commitment to HIV prevention research," says Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides. "This arrangement for L'644 helps IPM pursue development of compounds that target HIV at many points in the virus's lifecycle. We're working toward the day when millions of women around the world will have access to safe and effective microbicides -- and partnerships like this will help us get there."

Preclinical research conducted by Merck suggests that L'644 is a potent HIV fusion inhibitor that is able to block infection of T cell targets in laboratory settings. For this reason there is a strong scientific rationale for evaluating its potential as an anti-HIV microbicide. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck grants IPM full royalty-free rights to develop L'644 a
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SOURCE International Partnership for Microbicides
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