Ablynx, a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of Nanobodies,has entered into a second research collaboration and licensing agreement with a subsidiary of Merck.
This new exclusive collaboration and licensing agreement is focused on the discovery and development of several predefined Nanobody candidates (including bi- and tri-specifics) directed toward so called "immune checkpoint modulators," proteins believed to provide potential targets for the development of cancer immunotherapies, a rapidly emerging approach to the treatment of a wide range of cancer types.
Ablynx will receive an upfront payment of $27 million and up to $14.4 million in research funding during the initial three year research term of the collaboration. In addition, Ablynx is eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments on achieved sales thresholds for a number of products with ultimate potential to accrue as much as $2.3 billion plus tiered royalties. Merck will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of any products resulting from the collaboration.
Dr. Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx, said, "We are pleased to have expanded our relationship with Merck beyond the collaboration we signed in 2012. It demonstrates the potential of our Nanobody platform and how it can be used to discover and develop therapeutics in important areas of unmet medical need. The collaboration will benefit from the resources and experience that Merck has in the immuno-oncology field and we look forward to a fruitful and successful partnership in the development of these new therapeutic candidates."
"This collaboration positions Merck to expand our early oncology pipeline by developing innovative candidates based on Ablynx's Nanobody technology," said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories. "This second agreement builds beyond our ongoing collaboration in neuroscience and is consistent with Merck's focus on developing candidates with the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients."