Ablynx and Merck Serono enter four-year research agreement

Published: 27-Sep-2013

To develop nanobodies across multiple disease areas

Belgian biopharmaceutical company Ablynx and Merck Serono have expanded their relationship with a four-year research alliance that could lead to at least four co-discovery and co-development collaborations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck Serono will fund a dedicated discovery group at Ablynx. Both partners will jointly select disease targets against which this group will develop nanobodies across multiple disease areas. The collaboration will span all of Merck Serono’s core research and development fields, including oncology, immuno-oncology, immunology and neurology.

Merck Serono will provide €25m in funding over four years, including an initial payment of €11.5m, and will aim to ensure that the collaboration delivers at least six programmes with proof of principle in a relevant animal model.

In addition, depending on the successful achievement of in vivo proof-of-principle in sufficient programmes, Merck Serono will commit to taking at least four programmes forward with Ablynx in co-discovery and co-development arrangements.

This co-development will extend a collaboration between both companies which started in 2008, followed by two additional agreements in 2010 and 2011. Further terms of the new agreement are not disclosed.

Dr Edwin Moses, Chairman and CEO of Ablynx, said: 'The new alliance is an early stage discovery initiative, which allows the companies to rapidly explore the potential of novel targets across a range of therapeutic areas and to determine which programmes should be prioritised for later stage development. It is a very interesting model that could create substantial value for both parties and one which we believe could be applicable for us in other partnerships.'

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