We are delighted to share the news of the recent success of Aqilion, who secured an exclusive license and strategic research collaboration with Merck. The deal is worth up to EUR 950 million for their pre-clinical TAK1 inhibitor program. TAK1 is one of the central mediators in the inflammation process. Targeting this protein could offer new treatments for a broad range of autoimmune and inflammatory disease indications.

SARomics Biostructures and Red Glead Discovery supported Aqilion early in the TAK1 project. A successful application of structure-based drug design, compound synthesis, and evaluation was performed to develop these first-in-class kinase inhibitors. The positive outcome was made possible through close cooperation with Aqilion’s chemistry team, who clearly knew how to drive this project forward from the start. Ultimately, the successful hit-to-lead program led to the development of novel patented first-in-class TAK1 inhibitors.

With two of the three partners on the same site, an integrated approach, including a fast design-make-test-analyze cycle, was made possible, saving time and increasing efficiency. We are fortunate and proud to have been a part of Aqilion’s early journey on this project. Big congratulations to the Aqilion team for this significant achievement. We hope for a successful progression of the compounds through the clinical phase to the stage when they can impact patients. It is also good to see that innovative early-stage drug discovery is rising in Skåne (Medicon Valley, Greater Copenhagen region, the Öresund region).