Vinod Khosla speaking at SynBioBeta.

Pearl Bio Inks Lucrative Deal with Merck to Pioneer Innovative Biologic Therapies

Pearl Bio secures a groundbreaking partnership with Merck to pioneer innovative biologic therapies, leveraging cutting-edge Genomically Recoded Organisms (GROs) technology and backed by a potential $1 billion agreement.
Health & Medicine
March 12, 2024

Pearl Bio, a cutting-edge synthetic biology firm with strong backing from Khosla Ventures, made waves today with its announcement of a significant agreement with Merck, known as MSD beyond North America, to spearhead the discovery of biologic therapies featuring non-standard amino acids. This strategic collaboration, announced just as Vinod Khosla is poised to take the stage May 8 at SynBioBeta 2024 in San Jose, is underpinned by Pearl's exclusive technology and bolstered by the expertise of scientific co-founders Farren Isaacs (Yale) and Michael Jewett (Stanford), aims to revolutionize the field with the introduction of Genomically Recoded Organisms (GROs). These engineered organisms lay the groundwork for a new frontier of multi-functionalized biologics, offering customizable properties that were previously unimaginable.

At the heart of the partnership lies Pearl's groundbreaking GRO technology, which seamlessly integrates into both cell-based and cell-free systems, alongside its proprietary tethered ribosomes designed to encode synthetic monomers and target previously inaccessible epitopes. The initial focus will be on advancing biologic therapies for cancer treatment, leveraging Pearl's innovative approach to overcome the limitations often associated with traditional biologics.

“We are excited to demonstrate the power of Pearl’s technology in our partnership with Merck to create multi-functionalized therapeutic candidates with tunable properties solving for some of the key shortcomings confronting biologics,” explained Co-Founder and President, Amy Cayne Schwartz.

In a deal potentially valued at up to $1 billion, Pearl stands to receive substantial payments, including upfront, option, and milestone payments, along with potential royalties on sales of approved products stemming from the collaboration.

"Merck is excited to collaborate with Pearl, a pioneer in developing recoded organisms, to produce novel biologics enabled by synthetic chemistries,” shared Juan Alvarez, Vice President of Discovery Biologics at Merck Research Laboratories.

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