(Reuters) – Belgian biotech group Ablynx on Wednesday said it had tripled its research deal with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co leading to potential milestone payments of about 4 billion euros ($4.38 billion).
Large pharmaceutical groups such as Merck & Co often team up with smaller companies like Ablynx to develop new treatments. A so-called milestone payment is due whenever a programme passes a certain trial phase or clinical tests are successful.
Ablynx, which produces so-called nanobody medicines derived from llama antibodies, said it had expanded its research agreement with Merck & Co by 12 programmes for which it could receive up to 340 million euros each if successful.
The group added it would get a 13 million euro upfront payment for signing the deal expansion. The initial agreement with the U.S. group, signed in February 2014, contained payments of up to 1.7 billion euros. ($1 = 0.9142 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Anand Basu)
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