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Pharmaceuticals / Research and Development / Commercial Operations

Merck & Ablynx Sign Global Cancer Immunotherapy Agreement

Feb. 4, 2014

Ablynx and Merck have signed a cancer immunotherapy discovery pact and licensing deal that bolsters an earlier accord to develop and commercialize nanobodies targeting neurological disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and arrhythmia, the drugmakers said Monday.

The deal, announced Feb. 3, brings Ablynx’s nanobodies together with Merck’s regulatory, product development and commercialization know-how, as well as global marketing expertise, said Ablynx CEO Edwin Moses.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay Ablynx about $13 million upfront, with up to $14.4 million in research funding over the first three years. Ablynx may also receive developmental, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to $2.3 million. Merck will be responsible for developing, manufacturing and marketing any drugs resulting from the deal.

Immune checkpoint modulators are pathways through which the human immune system modulates duration and degree of physiological immune responses. It is well-known that cancer cells take advantage of those pathways in order to subvert the body’s natural cancer-fighting responses, Ablynx says. — Lena Freund

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