Merck to Participate in New Research Efforts to Eradicate HIV

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that company researchers will participate in two new collaborative efforts led by the prominent academic institutions of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to develop new approaches towards eradicating HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

As announced today by UNC, researchers from nine U.S. universities as well as Merck scientists will begin to study HIV latency and identify ways to purge persistent infection of the virus from the body. Separately, researchers at UCSF announced an international team of academic, governmental and Merck scientists will begin work on a five-year research effort to define HIV’s reservoirs, better understand the reservoirs, and test potential treatments. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, is the primary funding organization for both of these research efforts. Merck will not receive any funding for its participation in either effort.

"Collaboration has been the hallmark of much of the progress made against HIV since the virus was first identified 30 years ago. Continued collaboration is absolutely essential to better understand HIV reservoirs and identify potential approaches to the daunting challenge of eradicating HIV," said Daria Hazuda, Ph.D., vice president, Merck Research Laboratories. "Merck is honored and excited to participate in these important new undertakings."

UNC research team

The research team led by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute at UNC includes nineteen investigators from Case Western Reserve University; Johns Hopkins University; University of California, Davis; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego; University of California, San Francisco; The Gladstone Institute; University of Minnesota, and the University of Utah. Merck is the team's sole pharmaceutical industry partner.

UCSF research team

The research team led by UCSF includes collaborators from Johns Hopkins University, the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU, the University of Minnesota, Monash University, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), the Blood Systems Research Institute, the Karolinska Institute, the University of Miami, and the University of California, Davis. Merck is the team’s sole pharmaceutical industry partner.

Merck's history in HIV research and access

Merck has been engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS for more than two decades. In 1988, Merck researchers were the first to demonstrate that inhibiting the protease enzyme would prevent replication of HIV; the following year, Merck scientists published the first crystal structure for HIV protease. Years later, Merck scientists were the first to demonstrate inhibition of HIV integrase in vitro and in vivo. Currently Merck scientists are actively pursuing HIV research against at least five distinct targets and have several HIV compounds in development. Since our first HIV medicines became available, Merck has worked to expand access to these medicines, including through partnerships with others.

About Merck

Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com.

Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company’s plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation; the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully; disruption from the merger making it more difficult to maintain business and operational relationships; Merck’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck’s patents and other protections for innovative products; the risk of new and changing regulation and health policies in the United States and internationally and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions.

Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck’s 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov).



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KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  California  New Jersey  North Carolina

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Biotechnology  Clinical Trials  Infectious Diseases  Pharmaceutical  General Health

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