Ablynx, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Belgium, has extended its initial two-year research collaboration with Merck to develop and commercialize Nanobody candidates directed toward an undisclosed voltage gated ion channel.
Merck will extend its funding of the research collaboration with Ablynx to the end of September 2016. This ion channel collaboration was announced in October 2012 and included a $7.1 million upfront payment and $2.2 million in initial research funding.
Merck and Ablynx have a separate collaboration in the field of cancer immuno-therapy, announced in February in 2014, with a $21.8 million upfront payment, $11.6 million in research funding and total potential milestone payments of up to $1.8 billion plus royalties.
Dr. Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx, said, "We are pleased to extend the research funding for our current ion channel collaboration with Merck. To date, we have made encouraging progress in the discovery of Nanobodies against this very challenging target and the extension will potentially allow us to build on these advances."
As part of its hybrid model of developing its wholly-owned assets and partnering some programs, Ablynx has R&D collaborations with multiple pharmaceutical companies including AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eddingpharm, Merck, Merck Serono and Novartis involving more than 20 active therapeutic programs and which already have generated more than $370 million in non-dilutive cash for the company.
In October 2012, Ablynx and a subsidiary of Merck entered into a collaboration to develop and commercialize Nanobody candidates directed towards a voltage gated ion channel, with the option to develop and commercialize a Nanobody to a second target. Merck gains exclusive global rights to Nanobodies against the selected target, with an option for similar rights to a second target.
Merck paid Ablynx a $7.1 million upfront payment. In addition, Ablynx is eligible to receive research funding and up to $486.8 million in research, regulatory and commercial milestone payments associated with the progress of multiple candidates, as well as tiered royalties on any products derived from the collaboration. Ablynx is responsible for the discovery of Nanobody candidates and Merck is responsible for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of any Nanobody product resulting from the collaboration.