Idera Pharmaceuticals will obtain €3.0 million (approximately $4.3 million) from Merck KGaA as a milestone fee under their worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement. The payment was triggered by Merck’s initiation of a Phase II trial with EMD 1201081 in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. It will be tested in combination with Erbitux® (cetuximab) in second-line, cetuximab-naïve patients with recurrent or metastatic disease.
The original deal was established in December 2007 for the research, development, and commercialization of Idera’s TLR9 agonists including EMD 1201081 for the potential treatment of certain cancers. Merck paid an up-front license fee of $40 million (€28 million) to Idera. The firm is also eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $381 million (€264 million) as well as royalties on sales of any resulting products.
In February 2009, Idera earned its initial milestone fee of €3.0 million ($3.8 million) upon the dosing of the first patient in a clinical study of EMD 1201081 in combination with Erbitux® and Camptosar® in patients with colorectal cancer. The compound has since advance to a Phase Ib trial.
As part of Idera’s collaboration with Merck, EMD 1201081 is also currently being evaluated in a Phase Ib trial in combination with Tarceva® and Avastin® in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.