By Will Feuer

 

Merck & Co. said it has reached a collaboration deal with biotechnology company Orna Therapeutics that could be valued at up to $3.75 billion.

Merck will make an upfront payment to Orna of $150 million, which will be expensed by Merck in the third quarter, the company said. Orna could also receive up to $3.5 billion tied to milestones associated with multiple vaccines and therapeutics in development. Orna will also be eligible to receive royalties on any approved products that come out of the collaboration.

Merck also said it will invest $100 million of equity in Orna's recently completed Series B financing round.

Orna has developed a proprietary platform for circular RNA research. Circular RNA, or oRNA, has numerous advantages over traditional linear mRNA therapies such as simplified production, increased protein expression, and a superior immunogenicity profile, Orna said.

"This broad strategic collaboration brings together Merck's significant expertise in nucleic acid biology, clinical development, and manufacturing with Orna's compelling circular RNA technology to explore the opportunity to develop a new generation of potential vaccines and therapeutics," said Fiona Marshall, Merck Research Laboratories senior vice president and head of discovery, preclinical and translational medicine.

 

Write to Will Feuer at Will.Feuer@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 16, 2022 07:17 ET (11:17 GMT)

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