Merck Serono cheers Ablynx up with nanobodies pact
Ghent/Geneva - Ablynx rides the biotech rollercoaster. Only days after US-pharma company Pfizer pulled out of a rheumatoid arthritis pact, the Belgian bipharmaceutical outfit expanded its relationship with Merck Serono. Ablynx entered into a third agreement to discover and develop Nanobodies together with the Swiss against two targets in osteoarthritis. Under the terms of the deal, Ablynx will receive an upfront payment of €20 million payable in two tranches over the next three months."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", said, Ablynx' CEO Edwin Moses. With this money, Merck buys an all inclusive package. Ablynx will be fully responsible for all activities and costs for each programme, excluding manufacturing, up to the delivery of the pre-clinical package that will form the basis of an Investigational New Drug filing or equivalent. If Merck likes what it sees, Ablynx will get a further 15 million euros for each programme. 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. The companies have been partners since 2008. 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.