Skyhawk’s SkySTAR technology platform will be employed to discover and develop innovative RNA-binding small molecules designed to selectively modify RNA splicing, as a new modality for the potential treatment of certain autoimmune and metabolic diseases. The collaboration now spans four disease areas: neurodegeneration, oncology, autoimmunity, and metabolic diseases.
Skyhawk will grant Merck the option to exclusively license worldwide intellectual property rights to candidates discovered and developed under the collaboration. Merck will be responsible for further development and commercialization.
“RNA splicing modification offers a new approach to modulating targets previously considered undruggable,” said Dr. Dean Y. Li, senior vice president, Discovery Sciences and Translational Medicine, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to expanding our collaborative efforts to explore the potential of this new modality in additional disease areas.”