Sector News

Ablynx salvages Merck Serono alliance with slimmed-down deal

May 15, 2015
Life sciences
Ablynx has avoided the worst-case scenario for the collaboration with Merck Serono it entered into in 2013. The deal appeared dead in February but Ablynx has renegotiated the terms, keeping Serono tied into the development of two bispecific single-domain antibodies.
 
The compromise represents a partial retreat from the alliance by Serono, which will give Ablynx full ownership of three of the collaborative programs but retain an interest in the two bispecific nanobodies. Serono is due to handover €1 million ($1.1 million) to Ablynx by the end of the year, adding to the €11.5 million it has already ploughed into the research collaboration to date. Beyond that, Ablynx is also in line to receive milestones and royalties on the bispecific nanobodies. Ablynx made no mention of further research funding from Serono in its account of the renegotiated deal.
 
Ghent, Belgium-based Ablynx originally expected to net more than €25 million over four years and advance six programs to preclinical proof-of-concept, but Serono started to edge away from the plan in the months after striking its $2.85 billion immuno-oncology pact with Pfizer. An immuno-oncology asset is among the three programs handed back to Ablynx by Serono. Neither party has disclosed the therapeutic focus of the two programs in which Serono has retained an interest but Jefferies analyst Peter Welford understands they are in immunology and oncology.
 
The trimmed-down alliance leaves Ablynx with multiple ties to Serono–the two firms struck four deals from 2008 to 2013–and relationships with AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck and Novartis. Three partnered programs could enter the clinic this year, bolstering Ablynx’s early-phase pipeline at a time when its late-stage activities are ratcheting up. A Phase III trial of caplacizumab–which Ablynx owns outright–in patients with the blood disorder thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is due to start this year, pushing cash burn for 2015 toward €80 million.
 
By Nick Paul Taylor
 

Related News

September 18, 2020

Eli Lilly, Amgen join forces to scale production of COVID-19 antibody cocktails

Life sciences

Months of fervid research have whittled away most potential options to treat patients with COVID-19, a group of antibody cocktails still hold promise. Eli Lilly believes so strongly in its contender that it’s […]

September 16, 2020

Takeda unveils new Boston R&D manufacturing center for cell therapy pipeline push

Life sciences

Japanese drugmaker Takeda has trumpeted its plan in recent years to cut billions of dollars in costs and pivot around oncology and rare diseases. A key part of that strategy […]

September 15, 2020

AstraZeneca, Oxford restart stalled COVID-19 test as Pfizer ramps up trial numbers for its vaccine

Life sciences

Just under a week after it stopped its key phase 3 pandemic vaccine test, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have been given the green light to restart in the […]