BRUSSELS Feb 3 Belgian biotech company Ablynx
has signed a deal with Merck & Co worth up to
1.7 billion euros ($2.29 billion) to develop potential new
treatments for cancer.
The Belgian firm, which already has a neurology partnership
with Merck dating back to Oct 2012, said on Monday that it would
be charged with discovering antibody-derived proteins, known as
nanobodies, to target 'immune checkpoint modulators'.
The latter regulate the body's immune response, but cancers
can evade the host immune system that response since tumour
cells are the patient's own. Ablynx believes its tiny nanobodies
could help activate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Under the terms of the deal, Ablynx will receive a payment
of 20 million euros and up to 10.7 million euros in research
funding during an initial three-year research term.
Ablynx is eligible to receive payments on reaching certain
development, regulatory and commercial milestones with a
potential to accrue as much as 1.7 billion euros plus royalties.
Merck will be responsible for the development, manufacture
and commercialisation of any products resulting from the