GENEVA, November 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced that it has further expanded its relationship with Ablynx and entered into a third agreement to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies® against two targets in osteoarthritis. The companies will exploit the unique Nanobody features and will develop multi-specific products, which have extended half-lives.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ablynx will receive an upfront payment of €20 million payable in two tranches over the next three months and will be fully responsible for all activities and costs for each programme, excluding manufacturing costs and costs relating to certain in vivo models, up to the delivery of the pre-clinical package that will form the basis of an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing or IND equivalent filing. Ablynx is entitled to receive a further €15 million for each programme if the pre-clinical packages are accepted by Merck Serono. At that point, Ablynx has the option to continue with Merck Serono on a 50:50 co-development basis and share the resulting profits, or to convert this collaboration into an exclusive, worldwide licensing deal with milestone payments and tiered royalties.
"We are pleased with the progress we have made to date in our existing collaborations with Ablynx, and we look forward to further developing our productive relationship," said Dr Bernhard Kirschbaum, Head of Global Discovery and Early Development at Merck Serono. "We are impressed by the speed with which Ablynx has progressed in our ongoing programmes and we believe they could become a valuable source of new drug candidates for Merck Serono. We believe that the specific features of the Nanobodies have the potential to address key challenges in the treatment of osteoarthritis."
Dr Edwin Moses, Chairman and CEO of Ablynx commented: "We are very pleased to have entered into a third agreement with Merck Serono a year after entering into our second collaboration. Merck Serono is one of our most valued partners and the innovative and creative deal structure that we have put in place represents a "win-win" for both parties. Such new deals with an existing partner are clear signs of success of the earlier programmes in the partnership and reflect well on the strength of our Nanobody platform and the potential drug products it can create."
In September 2008, Merck Serono and Ablynx entered into an agreement to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies against two disease targets in oncology and immunology. In October 2010, the companies entered into a second agreement, to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies against an inflammatory disease target.
Ablynx (Euronext: ABLX) is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of Nanobodies®, a novel class of therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments, for a range of serious and life-threatening human diseases, including inflammation, thrombosis, oncology and pulmonary disease. Today, the Company has over 25 programmes in the pipeline and there are seven Nanobodies in clinical development. Ablynx has ongoing research collaborations and significant partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck Serono, Novartis and Pfizer. The Company is headquartered in Ghent, Belgium and currently employs over 280 people. More information can be found on http://www.ablynx.com.
About Merck Serono
Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated affiliate of Merck Serono.
Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux®, cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif®, interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f®, follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen® and Serostim®, somatropin), (Kuvan®, sapropterin dihydrochloride), (Egrifta™, tesamorelin), as well as cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage®, metformin), (Concor®, bisoprolol), (Euthyrox®, levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.
With an annual R&D expenditure of over € 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in rheumatology.
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.
Merck Serono is a division of Merck.
SOURCE Merck Serono S A