GHENT, Belgium, Feb. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ablynx [Euronext Brussels: ABLX], today announced that the company has entered into a second research collaboration and licensing agreement with a subsidiary of Merck & Co., known outside the US and Canada as MSD.

This new exclusive collaboration and licensing agreement is focused on the discovery and development of several predefined Nanobody candidates (including bi- and tri-specifics) directed toward so called "immune checkpoint modulators," proteins believed to provide potential targets for the development of cancer immunotherapies, a rapidly emerging approach to the treatment of a wide range of cancer types.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ablynx will receive an upfront payment of €20 million and up to €10.7 million in research funding during the initial three year research term of the collaboration. In addition, Ablynx is eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments on achieved sales thresholds for a number of products with ultimate potential to accrue as much as €1.7 billion plus tiered royalties. Merck will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialisation of any products resulting from the collaboration.

Dr Edwin Moses, CEO of Ablynx, commented: "We are pleased to have expanded our relationship with Merck beyond the collaboration we signed in 2012. It demonstrates the potential of our Nanobody platform and how it can be used to discover and develop therapeutics in important areas of unmet medical need. The collaboration will benefit from the world-class resources and expertise that Merck has in the immuno-oncology field and we look forward to a fruitful and successful partnership in the development of these new therapeutic candidates."

"This collaboration positions Merck to expand our early oncology pipeline by developing innovative candidates based on Ablynx's Nanobody technology," said Dr Roger M. Perlmutter, President of Merck Research Laboratories."This second agreement builds beyond our ongoing collaboration in neuroscience and is consistent with Merck's focus on developing candidates with the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients."

About Immuno-oncology

Immuno-oncology is a new area of medicine that aims to develop immunotherapies that enhance the host immune response against cancer cells. Although the number of immunotherapeutics on the market is still low, the commercial potential and clinical impact for this drug class is considerable.

Among the most promising approaches to activating therapeutic anti-tumour immunity is the modulation of immune checkpoints. Immune checkpoints refer to a plethora of pathways hardwired into the immune system that are crucial for modulating the duration and extent of physiological immune responses. Under normal settings these checkpoints modulate the immune response to prevent undue damage. It is now clear that tumours co-opt several different immune-checkpoint pathways as a major mechanism to subvert anti-tumour immune responses. Since many of the immune checkpoints are initiated by ligand-receptor interactions, they should be well-suited to targeting by biologics, especially multi-targeting agents such as Nanobodies.

About Ablynx

Ablynx is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of Nanobodies®, a novel class of therapeutic proteins based on single-domain antibody fragments, for a range of serious human diseases, including inflammation, haematology, oncology and pulmonary disease. Today, the Company has approximately 30 programmes in the pipeline and seven Nanobodies in clinical development. Ablynx has on-going research collaborations and significant partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies including AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eddingpharm, Merck & Co, Merck Serono and Novartis. The Company is headquartered in Ghent, Belgium.

More information can be found on www.ablynx.com.

For more information, please contact


Dr Edwin Moses
t:   +32 (0)9 262 00 07
m: +44 (0)7771 954 193 / 
     +32 (0)473 39 50 68
e:  [email protected]

Marieke Vermeersch
Associate Director Investor Relations
t:   +32 (0)9 262 00 82
m: +32 (0)479 49 06 03 
e:  [email protected]
Follow us on Twitter @AblynxABLX

Ablynx media relations Consilium Strategic Communications:

Mary-Jane Elliott, Amber Bielecka, Lindsey Neville
t:   +44 207 920 2345
e:  [email protected]

pdf version of the press release http://hugin.info/137912/R/1758542/594579.pdf