This morning before U.S. markets opened for trading, drug and target discovery company Absci Corp. (ABSI:NASDAQ), which utilizes deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) and synthetic biology to harness and expand the therapeutic potential of proteins, announced that "it has entered into a research collaboration with Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK:NYSE) (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada), using Absci's AI-powered Integrated Drug Creation™ Platform."
The agreement between the two firms provides that Absci will produce enzymes tailored to Merck's specific biomanufacturing applications using its Bionic Protein™ non-standard amino acid technology.
In return, Merck will pay the company unspecified upfront fees and other various milestone payments.
In addition, Merck will have the option rights to select up to three targets of its choosing and enter into a drug discovery collaboration agreement. Under that scenario, the report indicated that Absci would then be eligible to receive as much as $610 million in upfront fees and milestone achievement payments for each of the three targets, along with further research funding and tiered royalties on any future sales.
Absci Corp.'s founder and CEO Sean McClain stated, "We are very pleased to establish this collaboration with Merck and to be working with its world class research organization to generate novel enzymes. We look forward to applying our AI-driven platform to create new biologic candidates with the potential to meaningfully improve the lives of patients."
Merck Research Laboratories' SVP and head of discovery, preclinical and translation medicine Dr. Fiona Marshall remarked, "At Merck we are continually evaluating new ways to build, expand and refine our biologics capabilities…Absci's platform offers a compelling opportunity to design new biologic candidates and explore the expression of complex proteins."
Absci is a drug and target discovery company headquartered in Vancouver, Wash that combines the use of deep learning AI with synthetic biology to expand proteins therapeutic potential. The company explained that it "built its Integrated Drug Creation™ Platform to identify novel drug targets, discover optimal biotherapeutic candidates and generate the cell lines to manufacture them in a single efficient process." Absci partners with biotech and pharmaceutical companies to create and develop next generation of protein-based medicines.
Merck is one of the world's largest global healthcare companies based in Kenilworth, N.J. The company has a market cap of about $200 billion and is known as MSD outside of the U.S. and Canada. The firm is a global provider of healthcare services and developer, manufacturer and marketer of animal health products, biologic therapies, prescription medicines and vaccines. The company strives to be the world's premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company.
Absci Corp. began the day with a market cap of around $568.5 million with approximately 92.6 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 3.1%. ABSI shares opened greater than 48% higher today at $9.11 (+$2.97, +48.37%) over yesterday's $6.12 closing price. The stock has traded today between $7.53 and $9.26 per share and is currently trading at $7.26 (+$1.12, +18.24%).
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