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Ablynx and AbbVie sign inflammatory disease agreement

Authored by James Sheppard

Global pharmaceutical giant AbbVie announced that it had completed the signing of a global licensing agreement with Belgian biotech Ablynx. The agreement will see AbbVie gaining rights to Ablynx’s monoclonal antibody ALX-0061 post completion of phase II clinical trials. ALX-0061 is currently being trialled in both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

ALX-0061 recently posted positive results from a phase IIa trial is February 2013. The results showed strong efficacy and safety data in patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis on a stable methotrexate background. Upon the achievement of pre-defined criteria, Abbvie will in-license ALX-0061 and be responsible for phase III clinical development and commercialisation. Ablynx has retained the rights to co-promote in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Ablynx has received an upfront payment of $175m which  will partly be used to fund the next stage of clinical development . Upon achievement of certain milestones, Ablynx will be eligible to receive an additional $665m as well as double digit royalties on net sales after commercialisation.

Edwin Moses, Ph.D, chairman and chief executive officer of Ablynx said ‘This deal represents a major milestone for Ablynx and confirms both the potential value of ALX-0061 and the ability of our nanobody technology to generate clinical candidates with very exciting potential.’

Ablynx also announced that they had extended their ties with Merck Serono. The deal will expand the current research alliance which focuses across multiple therapeutic targets. The deal has netted Ablynx $15.5m in an upfront payment with the potential of the deal totalling $33.7m. The deal comes after Merck Serono and Ablynx dosed the first healthy volunteers for a phase I study for ALX-0761 for inflammatory diseases.

The deals continue a good year for Ablynx after they initiated a key phase I study and presented a number of positive clinical results including ALX-0061. AbbVie has a long history in the autoimmunity and inflammation market most notably through its blockbuster drug Humira. The partnership with AbbVie should allow for the rapid progression of ALX-0061 through clinical trials and provide a strong commercialisation partner for Ablynx.

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