Threshold, Merck KGaA strike $525M licensing deal for promising cancer drug

The dealmakers at South San Francisco-based Threshold Pharmaceuticals ($THLD) have crafted a $525 million licensing pact with Merck KGaA covering its late-stage cancer drug TH-302. Threshold snagged a $25 million upfront, a promise of $35 million in near-term paydays and a $20 million reward if upcoming pancreatic cancer data come in positive. And the biotech holds on to co-promotion rights in the United States.

In its release, Threshold outlined a total of $280 million in regulatory and development milestones and $245 million in milestones based on sales.

"The addition of TH-302 to our pipeline provides an important opportunity in several different tumor types to expand our oncology development program," said Susan Jane Herbert, who's in charge of business development and strategy at Merck Serono. "Given the fact that pancreatic cancer is a very difficult to treat indication, successful Phase II results could represent important upside for our company."

Threshold is all about TH-302. The biotech has 8 clinical trials underway involving the treatment.

In addition to the Phase II pancreatic cancer study, Threshold is pushing ahead on a late-stage program for soft tissue sarcoma. The treatment is designed to be activated when it comes in contact with the low oxygen levels found in tumor tissue, zeroing in on its target with a therapeutic payload that can be delivered in combination with other treatments.

- here's the release from Threshold
- read the story from Dow Jones