Merck taps Numerate for computerized cardio drug discovery

Merck ($MRK) has plugged into a digital drug design platform amid its hunt for compounds against cardiovascular disease. A subsidiary of the drug giant has inked a deal with San Bruno, CA-based Numerate, which says it will provide its in silico drug design tech to find small molecules for a mystery cardiovascular disease target.

Numerate uses algorithms and cloud computing to power searches for molecules that are likely to have an impact on specific disease targets, and the company says its findings can be as spot-on as those from discovery efforts in physical labs. With its computer-based system, Numerate can analyze billions of compounds without setting foot in a lab.

"We are pleased to add Merck, a recognized leader in drug discovery innovation, to our growing number of pharmaceutical collaborators," said Guido Lanza, Numerate's CEO. "This collaboration is focused on increasing the speed, cost-efficiency and likelihood of generating new small-molecule drug leads through the use of our large-scale computational drug design methods."

Numerate also landed a similar discovery deal with a unit of German's Boehringer Ingelheim, which put its faith in the small company to aid its efforts to discover a drug against an undisclosed infectious disease target.  

Computer-based drug design and discovery have been afoot for years, with varying levels of success. While they've never been a silver bullet for drug discovery, companies have at least been able to use computer-based design tools to make informed decisions about which drug leads are advanced into the lab for preclinical testing.

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