Press Release: Artemis to construct genetically engineered mouse models for Merck

Artemis Signs Agreement With Merck & Co., Inc. for Generation of Genetically Engineered In-Vivo RNAi Mouse Models COLOGNE, Germany, November 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Artemis Pharmaceuticals GmbH, Cologne announced today that it has signed a research agreement with Merck & Co., Inc. to construct a large number of shRNA interference ("shRNAi ") - genetically engineered mouse models for the in vivo functional analysis of selected disease related genes. The agreement represents a significant initiative to undertake a large-scale approach to gene function analysis using shRNA knock down in genetically engineered mice as models for human biology. Under the terms of the agreement, Artemis will generate genetically engineered shRNAi "knock down" mouse models for Merck using Artemis' proprietary, optimized and fully integrated vector construction, ES cell transfection and inducible RNAi technology. Merck will provide selected shRNA sequences that correspond to mouse genes that may also play a central role in human diseases. Artemis will use its technologies to achieve constitutive as well as inducible functional down-regulation of the expression of the gene targets provided by Merck. Artemis is the first company to have developed a robust methodology for the controlled induction of shRNA based gene knock down in adult mice. This inducible system permits the down-regulation of a selected target gene to be turned on and off thereby more closely modeling the dosing of a pharmacologic inhibitor. The generation time for such a mouse model at Artemis is only four months. "We are highly pleased to establish this research service agreement with Merck & Co. Inc.," said Prof. Peter Stadler, Managing Director of Artemis. "This agreement further expands our broad and successful ongoing relationship with Merck. It definitively provides evidence of the great interest in using our RNAi technology on a broad basis for drug discovery research. Disease related genes can be carefully analyzed in adult mouse models by combining shRNA technology with our methodologies to generate these mouse models for in vivo phenotypic characterization. For the first time ever it's now possible to generate large numbers of mouse models within a time frame previously thought unachievable. We at Artemis believe our technology platform is broadly applicable throughout the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry." About Artemis Artemis Pharmaceuticals has developed the worldwide leading portfolio of scientific and technological tools in murine molecular genetics and functional genomics. It offers custom-made genetically engineered mouse models for use at various stages of the industrial drug discovery process or for academic research. Artemis has formed a strategic alliance with Taconic, one of the world's leading breeders of laboratory rodents. This alliance enables the generation and delivery of genetically modified in vivo models to the customers in an unpreceeded speed and quality. Artemis customers include the majority of the leading pharmaceutical companies including Merck & Co., Inc., Sanofi-Aventis, Bayer AG, Boehringer Ingelheim, Astra Zeneca, Glaxo Smith Kline, Schering AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly, Merck KGaA, Biovitrum AB, and other pharma companies and biotech firms as well as various Academic Research Institutions worldwide. Artemis is a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelixis, Inc., South San Francisco, CA. USA (Nasdaq:EXEL - News) since 2001.