October 30, 2008
Lpath and Merck Serono Form Alliance for Cancer Drug Development
Lpath, a provider of bioactive-lipid-targeted therapeutics, and Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, have entered into a worldwide alliance to develop and commercialize Asonep, Lpath's Phase I monoclonal antibody that is being evaluated for the treatment of cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck Serono will provide Lpath up to $23 million of upfront payments and R&D funding to support Lpath's completion of the Phase I clinical trial.
If Merck Serono accepts the responsibility to develop Asonep beyond Phase I, it will pay Lpath an additional $28 million and will fund all continuing development activities. Further payments will be made on achievement of development, regulatory, and sales milestones that could total up to $422 million should Asonep be approved in multiple indications.
As part of the alliance, Lpath licensed to Merck Serono exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Asonep across all indications, and Lpath will receive royalties on commercial sales of the product.
Lpath has retained full ownership and control of its other leading drug candidates and underlying development technology, including iSONEP, Lpath's ocular formulation of the anti-S1P antibody and Lpathomab, an antibody against LPA, a key bioactive lipid. Further, Lpath plans to expand its pipeline of first-in-class monoclonal antibodies against bioactive lipids using its patented ImmuneY2 drug-discovery platform.
Vincent Aurentz, member of the executive board at Merck Serono, said: "This alliance is a promising strategic fit for Merck Serono's business model and culture. Asonep is an innovative drug candidate and the first monoclonal antibody targeting a bioactive lipid to be tested in clinical trials. We believe that S1P, the bioactive-lipid target of Asonep, plays an important role in cancer."