Merck Serono and Ablynx in agreement to research and develop nanobodies

17 September 2008

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Ablynx (Euronext Brussels: ABLX), to co-discover and co-develop Nanobodies against two targets in oncology and immunology. The agreement includes an upfront cash payment to Ablynx of 10 million.

Nanobodies are a new class of therapeutic proteins that contain the unique structural and functional properties of naturally-occurring single domain antibodies. The partners will collaborate to research and develop Nanobody-based therapeutics against two disease targets exploiting some of the key benefits Nanobodies have over conventional antibodies and other fragments.

Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will equally share all research and development costs. Should Ablynx contribute equally to each program, it will be eligible to receive fifty percent of the resulting profits.

In addition, Ablynx will have an option to opt-out partly or fully during the research and development programs, in which case the company would be eligible to receive either a reduced profit share, in the case of a partial opt-out, or milestones and royalties on potential sales, in the case of a full opt-out.

Total development and commercial milestones, depending on the point of opt-out by Ablynx, could reach up to 325 million should a product be approved in multiple indications in all major markets.

"This collaboration reinforces our commitment to deliver innovative treatments in areas of high unmet medical needs," said Dr Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President Research of Merck Serono. "We believe that Nanobodies have the potential to provide innovative drugs combining the best features of monoclonal antibodies and small molecules, and we look forward to working with Ablynx."

"We are very pleased to enter into this partnership with Merck Serono, a recognized global leader in the treatment of oncology and immunology therapies. This type of risk and reward sharing collaboration underlines Ablynx's maturing capabilities and collaboration strategy, whereby we can leverage on the resources and expertise of our partners to advance Nanobodies more quickly into the clinic while retaining an equal share of the value created," commented Dr Edwin Moses, CEO and Chairman of Ablynx.

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