Ablynx enters €13m immuno-oncology collaboration expansion with Merck

Takes responsibility for the discovery and development of up to 12 additional Nanobody programmes

Belgian firm Ablynx has announced a four-year expansion of its immuno-oncology collaboration with a subsidiary of Merck & Co, to address an increased number of immune checkpoint modulator targets.

The original tie-up announced in February 2014 focused on the discovery and development of five pre-defined Nanobody candidates (including multi-specific Nanobody combinations) directed towards immune checkpoint modulator targets for evaluation as immunotherapies for cancer.

As part of this expansion, Ablynx takes responsibility for the discovery and development of up to 12 additional Nanobody programmes against individual protein targets and target combinations through to the in vivo pre-clinical proof-of-concept stage, after which Merck will have the option to advance specific candidates.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ablynx will receive a €13m upfront payment. In addition, the company will receive further exclusivity fees, depending on the number of programmes chosen by Merck if it exercises its licensing option, in addition to development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to €340m per programme, as well as tiered royalties on annual net sales.

Merck will be responsible for clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation of any products resulting from the collaboration.

Dr Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx, said: 'This significant expansion of our collaboration with Merck after less than 18 months underlines the promise offered by our Nanobody platform in the discovery of unique new therapeutic agents. The speed and flexibility of the platform and its ability to develop multi-specific candidates against target combinations is a very powerful characteristic of the Nanobody technology.'

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