Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) To Build £1B London R&D Hub For Its First Ex-U.S. Early Research Center


Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is following through its 2017 promise to support post-Brexit Britain through a $1.31 billion early research hub in England’s capital city. According to the company, the new hub will be used to bring together staffers in the region and will also be its first early-stage research and development center outside the U.S. The new hub will mainly focus on development drugs for aging, predominately in neuroscience, in an area with high risk and big unmet demand.

The company had started work on the new hub in 2017 after Britain voted to leave the EU, in a move that was praised by British politicians. The plant was however delayed as the company tarried to identify space in the crowded London. Merck says the new hub will be called the London Discovery Research Centre and it will be completed by 2025. Work on the project is expected to start in 2021. In addition to bringing staffers and scientists together, the hub is expected to create an additional 120 new jobs for technicians and scientists. In general the company says the center will generate around jobs and will seat on a 25,000-square-meter piece of land.

“We currently view the U.K. as a world leader in developing science, driven by the long-term emphasis on building a strong research and development infrastructure,” said David Peacock, MSD managing director for the U.K. and Ireland

Merck’s oral cancer drug

For a long time, doctors have used checkpoint inhibitors that boost the immune system to fight cancer and various types of tumor. The use of these inhibitors however depends on the assumptions that the T-cells of the patients are able to attack tumors on their own. Researchers are working on improving immune-oncology by bringing T-cells to the tumor microenvironment.

One way scientists are exploring is the creation of a pathway called cGAS-STING. This method has shown to stimulate T-cell recruitment to the tumor microenvironment.  Merck has developed a STING agonist that can be taken orally. Dubbed MSA-2, the drug managed to clear tumors in mice with colorectal cancer

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