The investigational treatment underwent Phase I development and the group plans to initiate Phase II trials this year. According to the terms of the agreement, Avillion is responsible for bringing the nanobody treatment from Phase II to Phase III and financing the clinical program through to regulatory submission.
“We are delighted to embark on this new clinical co-development project with Merck and its innovative nanobody candidate,” Avillion CEO Dr. Allison Jeynes-Ellis said in prepared remarks. “This agreement is a further endorsement of our innovative business model and follows the success of our Phase III program with Pfizer for Bosulif (bosutinib) in chronic myeloid leukaemia. We are very encouraged that our collaborative approach to advancing the development of clinical candidates and boosting our partners’ R&D productivity is gaining such awareness in the biopharma industry.”
Merck’s Anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody is a nanobody with an extended half-life – in other words, it’s designed to be effective for a longer period of time. The therapy targets cytokines IL-17A and IL-17F to treat inflammatory diseases. The nanobodies are small and have a unique structure, the companies said, and could potentially act as the foundation for “a new generation of novel biological drugs.”
Merk inked a global development and commercialization deal with Ablynx in 2013 to acquire exclusive rights to the anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody.
“The collaboration announced today with Avillion will allow us to optimally deliver on the potential of IL-17, a compound which could address several areas of unmet need for patients today,” Merck executive board member Belén Garijo added. “In parallel, we have several highly-promising priority clinical assets in our pipeline, all of which we must continue to drive in-house. By partnering appropriately, not only can we maintain the internal focus on our R&D innovation strategy, but also maximize other opportunities that emerge from our pipeline.”