- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

KENILWORTH, N.J. (AP) - Drugmaker Merck says it’s bought a Swiss biotech company developing cancer drugs as part of its strategy to be a top player in cancer, one of the hottest pharmaceutical research areas.

Merck & Co., based in Kenilworth, New Jersey, will pay up to $110 million upfront to OncoEthix. The privately held company could receive further payments of up to $265 million if it meets targets for testing and product approval.

The deal gives Merck ownership of an experimental treatment called OTX015 that could be the first in a new class of drugs that block proteins involved in cancer cell growth and survival.

The drug demonstrated effectiveness in early-stage testing of patients with blood cancers, and OncoEthix last month began initial patient testing against five different types of solid tumors.

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