Merck Sharpe and Dohme has announced a new alliance with Codexis that will lead to the development of an enzyme-based production method for the drug boceprevir.
Collaborative research conducted by staff from both companies will aim to create a highly efficient means of manufacturing a key intermediate in the production of boceprevir, the active ingredient in Merck's drug Victrelis.
Codexis' directed evolution technology CodeEvolver has been used to create the new custom enzyme or biocatalyst, which can increase chemical intermediate yield by 150 percent compared to the previous process.
This will help to reduce the costs involved in the commercial-scale production of the treatment, with the enzymatic method also offering benefits in terms of biodegradability and renewability.
Dr Richard Tillyer, senior vice-president for discovery and preclinical sciences at Merck Research Laboratories, said: "Incorporation of innovative environmentally sustainable means of manufacture is a key aspect of our research and development strategy."
This comes after Victrelis received a recommendation from the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence last month as a therapy for chronic hepatitis C.