GHENT, Belgium – Ablynx [Euronext Brussels: ABLX] and partner Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced that they have advanced the Nanobody candidate, ALX-0761, into pre-clinical development for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. This is the first pre-clinical candidate that has emerged from the collaboration which the companies entered in 2008, and will result in a €1 million milestone payment to Ablynx.
In September 2008, Ablynx entered into an agreement with Merck Serono under which Merck Serono and Ablynx 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 will share equally all research and development costs and the resulting profits. Ablynx 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 Serono 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) 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 resulting profits, or to convert this collaboration into a licensing deal with milestone payments and significant tiered royalties.
“We are very pleased to see our first joint immunology programme with Merck Serono advancing into pre-clinical development just three years since the start of our collaboration”
said Dr. Edwin Moses, Chairman and CEO of Ablynx.
“It demonstrates the speed at which our Nanobody platform can generate lead candidates for further development and we are looking forward to eventually entering the clinic with this programme in partnership with Merck Serono.”