GHENT, Belgium – Ablynx [Euronext Brussels: ABLX] today announced that they have advanced the Nanobody® candidate ALX-0751, together with Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, into pre-clinical development in the field of oncology. This is the second pre-clinical candidate that has emerged from the collaboration which the companies entered into in 2008, and will result in a €1 million milestone payment to Ablynx.
“We are very pleased to see our joint oncology programme with Merck Serono advancing into pre-clinical development in less than four years since the start of our collaboration,”
said Dr Edwin Moses, Chairman and CEO of Ablynx.
“This is the second pre-clinical development asset that we have with Merck Serono and we are looking forward to seeing this programme advance towards the clinic.”
In September 2008, Ablynx entered into an agreement with Merck under which Merck Serono and Ablynx agreed to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies against two targets in immunology and oncology. The agreement included an upfront cash payment to Ablynx of €10 million and both companies committed to sharing equally all research and development costs and the resulting profits. Ablynx also has options to opt-out during the research and development programmes, in which case Ablynx would be eligible to receive milestones and royalties.
In October 2010, Ablynx and Merck entered into a second co-discovery and co-development agreement to develop Nanobodies against one single target in inflammation. Ablynx received an upfront fee of €10 million and retained full control to drive the process up to the Investigational New Drug (IND) application upon which it is eligible to receive a €15 million success fee provided that Merck Serono accepts the IND package. This agreement also allows Ablynx to continue with Merck Serono on a co-development basis and share the potential resulting profits, or to convert this collaboration into a licensing deal with milestone payments and significant tiered royalties.
In November 2011, Ablynx and Merck announced that they have further expanded their relationship and entered into a third agreement to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies against two targets in osteoarthritis. Ablynx received an upfront fee of €20 million 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.
Ablynx 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 human diseases, including inflammation, haematology, oncology and pulmonary disease. Today, the Company has approximately 25 programmes in the pipeline and seven Nanobodies at clinical development stage. Ablynx has ongoing research collaborations and significant partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA, and Novartis. The Company is headquartered in Ghent, Belgium. More information can be found on www.ablynx.com.