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Merck, Collaborators Publish Study Showing Potential for Eradication of Persistent HIV Virus in the Body

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul 25, 2012 - Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today the publication of a study in the July 26 issue of the leading scientific journal Nature that provided early evidence for the use of a drug to dislodge reservoirs of hidden virus in patients receiving treatment for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Scientists from Merck Research Laboratories collaborated with researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, the Harvard School of Public Health, National Cancer Institute, and the University of California at San Diego in the study in a collaboration initiated last year to identify new ways to purge persistent infection of HIV from the body.

"We believe that the disruption and clearance of these virus reservoirs is a critical first step to the daunting challenge of finding a cure for HIV/AIDS," said Daria Hazuda, Ph.D., vice president, Merck Research Laboratories. "We are excited about this pioneering research and remain hopeful for its potential."

This is the first published study to show the potential for histone deacetylase inhibitors to attack latency within dormant virus pools in a translational clinical study. This research was first presented in March at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle and more recently at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC.

“This work provides compelling evidence to support a strategy to directly attack and eradicate latent HIV infection," said David Margolis, MD, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, and epidemiology at UNC at Chapel Hill, who led the study.

The research conducted is part of a UNC-led consortium, the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE), funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Funding for this research was provided by Merck, the National Institutes of Health, and the James B. Pendleton Charitable Trust.

Merck's history in HIV research and access

Merck has been engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS for more than two decades. In 1988, Merck researchers were the first to demonstrate that inhibiting the protease enzyme would prevent replication of HIV; the following year, Merck scientists published the first crystal structure for HIV protease. Years later, Merck scientists were the first to demonstrate inhibition of HIV integrase in vitro and in vivo. Currently Merck scientists are actively pursuing HIV research against at least five distinct targets and have several HIV compounds in development. Since our first HIV medicines became available, Merck has worked to expand access to these medicines, including through partnerships with others.

About Merck

Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that all of the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; Merck's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck's patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions.

Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck's 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (


Contact: Merck
Ian McConnell, 908-423-3046
Carol Ferguson, 908-423-4465



Posted: July 2012