Merck & Co. is ending its alliance with Galapagos covering cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic diseases. Galapagos will regain worldwide rights for assets developed under this deal and receive €12 million (about $16.3 million) for work completed last year.
“Changes in our early discovery strategy have required us to make some challenging decisions,” notes Kathleen Metters, svp, external discovery and preclinical sciences, at Merck.
The firm first tapped into Galapagos in January 2009 for research into diabetes and obesity. The deal was expanded in October to atherosclerosis. Galapagos stood to earn €400 million (about $543.45 million) from this metabolic disease agreement.
Galapagos reports that it developed high-throughput assays capable of identifying promising protein targets and small molecules that modify the disease process. For diabetes and obesity these include glucose and glycogen metabolism and an insulin secretion assay in human primary cells. For atherosclerosis the company identified and characterized targets that suppress LDL and enhance HDL levels.
The inflammatory disease partnership was signed in April 2009 with €2.5 million (almost $3.4 million) up front. It was worth over €192 million (approximately $260.8 million). Galapagos says that it has screened a certain type of lung cell to identify and validate targets that suppress a factor believed to be important in inflammatory disease.
Including the payment of €12 million, Galapagos says that it has received €20.9 million in up-front and milestone payments derived from the Merck alliances. “In the alliances with Merck, we have discovered promising targets and developed target discovery assays for diseases with considerable unmet medical needs,” says Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Galapagos.
“Galapagos now owns these valuable assets which can form the basis for future alliances. The work delivered to Merck last year also made a strong contribution to Galapagos’ financial results in 2010,” Stolpe notes.