Merck & Co and Lycera have signed a preclinical research deal that could be worth up to $300m if certain milestones are met.
Under the contract Lycera will discover, develop and commercialize small-molecule therapies for a range of immune-mediated disorders. The collaboration builds on a 2011 agreement that focused on therapies targeting the retinoic acid related orphan receptor, the key transcription factor coordinating both differentiation of T-helper 17 cells and production of highly pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukin-17.
Lycera will receive an upfront payment and research funding but the financial terms of those payments will not be disclosed, Katie Wilson, a spokesman for Lycera told Outsourcing-pharma.com.
“Merck is responsible for clinical development and will have worldwide marketing and commercialization rights to any products that may be developed as a result of the collaboration,” Wilson said. “Lycera is entitled to receive royalty payments, as well as development and sales milestones, on global sales from any such products.”
Rupert Vessey, senior vice president of Merck Research Laboratories, said, “Lycera’s innovative capabilities and productivity, exemplified by the RORgt program on which we currently collaborate, make them ideal partners for Merck in this area of drug discovery.”
The 2011 deal provided Lycera with $12m in upfront cash payments, significant committed research funding, and made the company eligible to receive up to $295 million in other research, development and regulatory milestone payments.