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This program is based on an inhibitor of TAK1, which is a central mediator, or a kind of switch, for various inflammatory signals and for activation of several inflammatory mediators (cytokines).

The program (Alnitak) began in the fall of 2019 and on February 15, 2023, Aqilion signed an exclusive license agreement and strategic research collaboration with Merck to discover, develop and commercialize small-molecule inhibitors of TAK1. In this collaboration, Aqilion will be responsible for the design and synthesis of novel small molecule TAK1 inhibitors, while Merck will lead the work in preclinical pharmacology and biology.