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Merck/Ono collaborate on MS and cancer

Merck Serono and Ono Pharmaceutical are to work together to develop and market new treatments for both multiple sclerosis and cancer

Merck Serono and Ono Pharmaceutical are to work together to develop and market new treatments for both multiple sclerosis (MS) and cancer.

The deal involves the investigational drug, ONO-4641, which is currently in phase II development for the treatment of MS, and Stimuvax, an investigational cancer therapy in phase III development.

Merck will acquire worldwide exclusive licence rights for ONO-4641 outside Japan, Korea and Taiwan, with Ono receiving 1.5bn yen (about €14m) in upfront payment and the potential of additional milestones. The drug was originally discovered and developed by Japan-based Ono.

In return, Ono will gain co-development and co-marketing rights of Merck's Stimuvax in Japan. Stimuvax is an investigational non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) immunotherapy. Merck will receive an upfront payment of €5m, with additional financial terms not disclosed.

Merck obtained the exclusive worldwide licensing rights for Stimuvax from US-based pharmaceutical firm Oncothyreon.

4th October 2011

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