Fast Pfenex unveils $52M partnership deal with Merck

San Diego-based start-up Pfenex hasn't wasted any time in getting partnered up with a Big Pharma collaborator. The Dow Chemical spinout, which made its debut last week, announced a $52 million discovery collaboration with Merck this morning.

Merck licensed its Pfenex Expression Technology to produce proteins for use in an undisclosed vaccine. Pfenex gets an upfront and milestones, which aren't spelled out, along with a royalty stream from any approved vaccine. "This collaboration is a clear example of the strength of the Pfenex Expression Technology being leveraged in the discovery, development and production of novel vaccines," Pfenex CEO Bertrand Liang says in a statement. The protein production company's platform technology relies on the micro-organism Pseudomonas fluorescens for the production of research proteins, reagent proteins, biosimilars and innovator biopharmaceuticals.

Pfenex has raised $24 million to get started. Signet Healthcare Partners led the Series A, which was unveiled last week in a regulatory filing. Pfenex's San Diego operation includes more than 20 scientists.

- here's the Pfenex press release