Martek Biosciences Corp. and Merck & Co. Inc. have signed a one-year agreement to develop drugs from microalgae collected andcatalogued by Martek.Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. However, Mona Hoff,Martek's director of investor relations, said the Columbia, Md.-basedcompany received an up-front payment of between $100,000 and$200,000 from Merck, of Whitehouse Station, N.J.Under terms of the collaboration, Martek will screen extracts from itslibrary of microalgae for development of human and animaltherapeutics as well as for agricultural applications.If Merck chooses to pursue any potential products, the two companieswill negotiate payments for development and marketing rights.Hoff said 100,000 species of microalgae exist worldwide and Martekhas catalogued 16,000 in its library. The company's culturingtechnology has enabled it to produce microalgae and their extracts inlarge quantities for potential pharmaceutical development.She said Martek already has screened microalgal extracts for potentialuse as antibiotics against bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus, andas an antifungal treatment for infections such as Candida albicans. _Charles Craig
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