Merck Serono and F-Star collaborate in developing targeted biologics

Novel technology offers significant improvements over conventional antibodies

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, has signed a research, license and commercialisation agreement with antibody engineering company F-Star, of Vienna, Austria, for the discovery of new antibody-derived therapeutics against inflammatory disease targets, using F-Star's Modular Antibody Technology.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck Serono will nominate up to three therapeutic targets and the parties will collaborate to jointly discover mono-specific Fc-based targeted biologics (Fcabs) and bi-specific IgG-based targeted biologics (mAb2), for which Merck KGaA will have exclusive worldwide development and commercialisation rights.

F-Star will receive an initial technology access fee and research-based funding and is eligible to receive additional licence fees, development, regulatory and commercialisation milestones, which could total b492m, as well as undisclosed tiered royalties on product sales.

‘We are very pleased to see our investment in F-Star through Merck Serono Ventures mature into a strategic collaboration, which reinforces our commitment to deliver innovative treatments in the area of inflammatory diseases,’ said Susan Herbert, head of portfolio development at Merck Serono. ‘We believe that F-Star's Modular Antibody Technology has the potential to offer important functional advantages over conventional antibodies and will potentially allow us to generate highly differentiated drugs for patients with so far unmet medical needs.’

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