Advances in two separate deals with Neuroptix and NicOx triggered almost $8 million in milestone fees from Merck & Co.
Neuroptix received $1 million related to its Alzheimer's disease diagnostic collaboration. The December 2006 agreement gave Merck a nonexclusive license to use Neuroptix' QEL laser eye scanning device for preclinical and clinical research. The tool detected Alzheimer's-related amyloid protein aggregates in the lens of the eye in preclinical studies.
Separately, Merck & Co. initiated clinical trials for the first selected drug candidate from its partnership with NicOx to develop new nitric oxide-donating antihypertensive agents using NicOx' technology. This prompted a milestone payment of EUR 5-million, or approximately $6.88 million, from Merck.
NicOx and Merck entered into a deal to use NicOx’ nitric oxide-donating tool and in January selected this first candidate marking a EUR 5-million milestone. The companies began toxicology studies needed to submit an exploratory IND for this compound, which has since been reviewed.
"There is evidence that endothelial nitric oxide plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure, and we believe that this drug candidate could satisfy the clear unmet medical need in the hypertensive market," says Jacques Djian, M.D., NicOx' cardiometabolic area leader.
To date, NicOx has received EUR 19.2 million. The company stands to earn up to EUR 269 million in milestone fees plus royalties. "We feel confident that the drug candidate resulting from this agreement with Merck, where we have a co-promotion option to specialist physicians in selected markets, together with our lead compound naproxcinod, will represent a solid and attractive basis to transform NicOx into an integrated pharmaceutical company," says Michele Garufi, chairman and CEO of NicOx.