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Science is, and always will be, IRBM’s cornerstone

IRBM was established in 1990 as a molecular biology institute, a joint venture between Merck & Co. and the Italian chemical company, Sigma-Tau. In 2000, Merck & Co. obtained sole ownership of the site, which became the Italian drug discovery site for the company.

Researchers at IRBM invented and developed pivotal drugs such as Zolinza (a HDAC inhibitor for the treatment of lymphomas), Isentress (the first-in-class HIV integrase inhibitor), Grazoprevir (part of combination therapy Zepatier, a HCV cure), and Zejula (a PARP inhibitor for ovarian cancer). All four drugs successfully passed clinical trials and entered the market.

In 2009, IRBM was divested by Merck & Co., and it reopened in 2010 as an independent drug discovery company, retaining the scientific team responsible for the development of the four marketed drugs. IRBM has delivered over 25 candidates now in the clinic. Our researchers, many of whom have worked together since their time at Merck & Co., have published over 800 papers, and appear among the inventors of over 100 patents. In 2016, IRBM developed an ultrasensitive mutant Huntingtin quantification assay, now widely used to detect levels of the mutant protein in samples from Huntington’s disease patients.

The first non-proprietary small molecule drug developed at IRBM since the reorganization entered the clinic in 2014, while the first non-proprietary peptide drug is entering the clinic in 2019.

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