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A search for a company looking for a cancer, preclinical stage, synthetic opportunity would use the selection "Biomedicine, Diagnostics" in 'Sector', 'Cancerous, neoplasmatic' in 'Disease Category', 'Drugs, Small Molecule' in 'Technology' and 'Preclinical' in 'Development Stage'.

Selection of 'Enabling Technology, Platform technology' in 'Sector' will identify all kinds of searches for technologies that can be used in more areas of life sciences than pharmaceuticals only.

Each search profile gives the name or a short description of the company behind the search, and a link allowing to contact your potential licensee.

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Merck & Co. is looking for opportunities in biologics, vaccines and enabling technologies

Organization name

Merck & Co., Inc.


At Merck, we share your passion for developing breakthrough vaccines and medicines that advance human health. We are inspired by your discoveries and we want to work with you to bring your innovation from bench to bedside.

Favorable Licensing Candidates

We're interested in:

  • Novel patented compounds
  • Targets with proof of concept
  • Molecules with a defined mechanism of action or testable hypothesis'
  • Technologies with patent protection that provide a competitive advantage

Late-stage clinical compounds with proven therapeutic value (phase IIb or beyond) are of interest in any therapeutic area.

Areas of Interest:
  • Biosimilars
  • Novel biologics and biobetters that fit franchise strategies
  • Novel devices for SQ and IV delivery
Technologies of Interest:
  • Fc engineering to enhance / improve effector functions, half-life
  • Targeted delivery technologies that:
    • Address / overcome the blood brain barrier
    • Glycan mediated targeting
  • Bi-specific platforms with promising stability and manufacturing yield
  • Validated antibody-drug conjugate targets and technology
  • Technologies that enhance expression, production, formulation, stability, and bioavailability (via SQ admin) of proteins
  • Platforms for the identification, generation, and modification of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs, Fabs, scFvs) and engineered proteins displaying pharmaceutical properties
    • High throughput screening
      • Including function-based screens
Not Interested in:
  • Transgenic animal-based or plant-based production systems for therapeutics
Areas of Interest:
  • Viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic vaccine candidates in areas of high medical need / high incidence
    • Must have robust pre-clinical immunogenicity and safety data
    • Efficacy in a relevant pre-clinical model where one exists
    • Clinical POC an advantage but not required
    • Must be amenable to production in a platform acceptable for human use and to scalable production
  • HIV
    • Novel immunogens that elicit broadly cross-neutralizing immunity antibodies
  • Influenza
    • Universal flu vaccines: Preclinical data demonstrating broadly cross-reactive HAI and / or neutralizing antibodies (ie, not just cellular immunity) and protection from challenge (survival and weight loss) comparable to seasonally matched control vaccines
    • Seasonal influenza vaccines that have clinical data demonstrating differentiation from marketed products, eg, higher HAI and / or neutralizing antibodies in elderly subjects
  • Improvements on existing in-house vaccines, which would allow for reduced dosing or increased cross-strain protection
  • Novel adjuvants and immunomodulators
    • Highly desirable if preclinical efficacy or clinical POC achieved, but not necessarily required
    • Robust preclinical toxicology data demonstrating acceptable safety profile
Tools and Technologies:
  • Novel technologies for:
    • Antigen selection, discovery, and identification
    • Viral vector approaches
    • Vaccine administration, eg, dermal or mucosal delivery of vaccines
    • Multiplexed clinical assay platforms
    • Production of virus-like particles
    • Studying human cellular and B cell responses to vaccination, including novel human tissue culture systems and humanized mouse systems
    • Enhance thermostability of vaccines during transport and storage
  • Novel cell lines for vaccine or recombinant protein production, preferably with Phase I safety data
Not Interested in:
  • Biodefense targets
  • Products containing thimerosal or unmodified animal / human components
  • Seasonal vaccines (eg, influenza) that are not clinically differentiated from marketed products
  • DNA-based vaccines for infectious diseases without clinical proof of concept
  • Viral vectors based on pox viruses, retroviruses, adenovirus or adeno-associated viruses
RNA Therapeutics
Areas of Interest:
  • siRNA delivery platforms for systemic and / or local administration
    • Ability to demonstrate dose-dependent, RNAi-mediated gene silencing in vivo with at least a 10-fold margin for severe toxicities
    • Chemical and / or biological components suitable for enhancing cellular uptake, intracellular trafficking, endosomal escape, and cytosolic release of oligonucleotides
    • Chemical and / or biological components capable of conferring improved biocompatibility of RNA nanoparticles / formulations
    • Targeting ligands (antibodies, peptides, aptamers, or small molecules) suitable for direct siRNA conjugation or for nanoparticle, polymer, or liposome delivery
  • Assays
    • Novel particle size characterization methods
    • Novel colloid surface characterization methods
    • Biochemical assays for Ago / RISC binding and catalytic activity
  • siRNA sequence, structure, and modification
    • Novel chemistries for:
      • Improving resistance to enzymatic and chemical degradation
      • Reducing immunostimulation
      • Enhancing Ago2 / RISC incorporation and potency
      • Improving target specificity
    • Predictive bioinformatic and molecular models
  • miRNA
    • Novel chemistries to create miRNA mimics and / or antagonists
    • Assays for pharmacodynamic evaluation of miRNA activity
    • Potential therapeutic agents that:
      • Reduce miRNA levels in animals and generate the expected phenotypic effects
      • Mimic natural miRNA, reduce mRNA levels, and have the expected phenotypic effects
  • RNA manufacturing
    • Advancements in large-scale production of modified siRNA
    • Improved processes for increased quality, efficiency, and reduced COG
    • Novel chemistries
    • Universal linker-based solid support for production of siRNAs
    • Robust LC-MS method for determination of impurity profile of phosphoramidite raw materials and oligonucleotides (siRNAs)
    • Alternative methods to produce siRNA clinical supplies
  • AAV production
    • High-titer, high-volume AAV production for non-clinical applications and POC
Not Interested in:
  • Plasmid DNA-based methods for RNA therapies
  • Viral delivery methods for RNA therapies
  • Aptamers as therapeutics
Drug Delivery and Formulation
Areas of Interest:
  • Oral delivery technologies:
    • Technologies for delivery of water-insoluble compounds (especially mitigation of food effect)
    • Oral-controlled release technologies to modify pharmacokinetics (eg, increase Cmax, AUC, and / or T1/2, reduce peak-to-trough ratio):
      • For poorly soluble compounds (<0.1 mg / mL)
      • For compounds with narrow absorption windows (eg, those with poor colonic absorption)
    • Ingredients or formulations that can enhance permeability
    • Orally disintegrating tablet (ODT) technology or film technology with robust in vivo performance and simple packaging
    • Sublingual delivery for fast onset
    • Technologies that protect actives from the GI environment (eg, gastric acid or GI metabolism)
    • Novel oral protein / peptide delivery systems (eg, insulin)
  • Inhalation / nasal delivery:
    • Delivery systems for small and large molecules
    • Novel in situ modeling (eg, lung solubility or IVIVC)
  • Injectable delivery, alternative routes of administration:
    • Injection devices (eg, novel and easy to use self-injection systems, improved liquid / dry reconstitution technologies)
    • Infusion systems (IV and subcutaneous delivery that facilitate hospital and home infusion therapies)
    • Novel skin-based delivery technologies for high concentration antibody formulations and large volumes of liquid (>2 mL)
    • Technologies for delivery of water-insoluble compounds (eg, IV-administered nanosuspensions or dispersed systems for small molecules and peptides)
    • Systems (including implants) for sustained release of small and large molecules from one week to several months, up to years (long-acting implants)
    • Vaginal ring and intrauterine delivery
  • Back-of-the-eye delivery systems (eg, invasive and noninvasive, clinically proven technologies for retinal delivery of small molecules, siRNA* and trophic factors)
  • Novel passive and active transdermal and topical technologies for small molecule and peptide delivery
  • Intelligent delivery systems capable of modulated delivery (eg, signal or drug concentration); personalized / feedback control
Areas of Interest:
  • Quick-turnaround mid-density expression, genotyping, protein expression platforms
  • Technologies that can perform multiplexed biomarker analysis with wide dynamic range
    • RNA, proteins, peptides, and / or small molecules
    • Animals and / or clinic
    • More streamlined with fewer repeats due to dilutions for individual analytes qualified biomarkers
  • Identify vendors / academics that have identified and / or discover / validate / qualify biomarkers
    • Translation to humans (cell lines → human cells → animals → humans)
    • Target engagement, pharmacologic activity, efficacy, and toxicity
    • Sources of samples or model systems for biomarker discovery and development
Analytical Technology
Areas of Interest:
  • Improved efficiency of analytical workflows
    • Fast and high throughput analysis tools
    • More efficient analytical method development
    • Novel PAT tools
    • Automation of analysis
  • Methods to analyze large molecules (siRNAs, peptides, polymers), biologics, and vaccines
  • Improved platform analytical tools (HPLC, MS, etc) that require smaller samples, including microfluidic devices to run complex analytical assays

We are most interested in novel compounds that have large market potential for unmet medical needs. An attractive compound would have selectivity, potency, a demonstrated mechanism of action, preliminary toxicology data, oral availability, and a good half-life for once-daily administration. We also look for strong intellectual property protection on the target and the molecule.

Sending a proposal:

When contacting us about your discovery, we ask that you:

  • Provide a clear, concise, non-confidential data package for review
  • Highlight the advantages of your discovery
  • Provide perspective on its value within the competitive landscape

Keep in mind that our review process is centralized and includes review by the appropriate experts from basic biology, chemistry, preclinical, clinical, marketing and patent.

We look forward to hearing about your discovery. Together, we can transform cutting-edge science into medicines that address unmet medical needs.

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