Merck and Kelun-Biotech Announce Exclusive License and Collaboration Agreement for Seven Investigational Antibody-drug Conjugate Candidates for the Treatment of Cancer
Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, and Kelun-Biotech, a clinical-stage biotech company focused on biologic and small molecule discovery and development, today announced that the companies have entered into an exclusive license and collaboration agreement to develop seven investigational preclinical antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) for the treatment of cancer.
“Advances in ADC technologies are yielding a new generation of candidates designed to more precisely target and deliver potent anticancer agents to the tumor site,” said Dr. Dean Y. Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “We continue to augment our oncology pipeline and look forward to working with the Kelun-Biotech team to advance these candidates to the patients that need them.”
Under the agreement, Kelun-Biotech has granted Merck exclusive global licenses to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize multiple investigational preclinical ADC therapies and exclusive options to obtain additional licenses to ADC candidates. Kelun-Biotech retains the right to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize certain licensed and option ADCs for mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
“The further expansion of our collaboration with Merck provides a strong endorsement for our technology from a leader in the development of cancer treatments,” said Dr. Junyou Ge, chief executive officer of Kelun-Biotech. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Merck scientists.”
Kelun-Biotech will receive an upfront payment of $175 million from Merck. Kelun-Biotech is also eligible to receive future development, regulatory and sales milestone payments totaling up to $9.3 billion, if Kelun-Biotech does not retain mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau rights for the option ADCs and all candidates achieve regulatory approval, plus tiered royalties on net sales for any commercialized ADC product. Merck also intends to make an equity investment in Kelun-Biotech. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approval under the Hart-Scott Rodino (HSR) Act and approvals by the shareholders of Kelun-Biotech and Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
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