Sign Deal AgreeementAvillion LLP, a codeveloper and financier of late-stage pharmaceutical product candidates, announces that it has signed a clinical codevelopment agreement with Merck (Darmstadt, Germany), a leading science and technology company, to advance Merck’s anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody in plaque psoriasis.

Anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody is an investigational therapy that has completed Phase I development, and is expected to begin Phase II in plaque psoriasis in 2017.

Avillion will be responsible for developing anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody from Phase II through Phase III. Avillion will also finance the clinical programme through to regulatory submission. No financial terms are disclosed.

Allison Jeynes-Ellis, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Avillion, said: “We are delighted to embark on this new clinical codevelopment project with Merck and its innovative nanobody candidate. This agreement is a further endorsement of our innovative business model and follows the success of our Phase III programme 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.”

“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,” said Belén Garijo, member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Healthcare.

“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 maximise other opportunities that emerge from our pipeline.”

Anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody is an investigational bispecific half-life extended nanobody that is thought to neutralise both IL-17A and IL-17F with the potential to treat inflammatory diseases.

Owing to the small size and unique structure of Nanobodies, they could be an ideal building block for a new generation of novel biological drugs. Merck acquired full, exclusive rights to anti IL-17 A/F Nanobody through a global development and commercialisation deal with Ablynx in 2013.