ZymoGenetics and Merck Serono restructured existing agreements related to the development of atacicep for autoimmune diseases and research focused on inflammatory diseases.
ZymoGenetics exercised its contractual right to convert to a worldwide royalty license. Hence it will no longer be responsible for funding development of atacicep. Instead, Merck Serono will fund 100% of the program costs on a worldwide basis.
Merck Serono thus also gains exclusive, worldwide development and commercialization rights for atacicept, including in North America. Merck Serono will make milestone payments to ZymoGenetics, as agreed in the original contract between the two companies signed in 2001, and pay royalties on worldwide net sales.
Under the revised research partnership, ZymoGenetics will now control the development and commercialization of IL-31 mAb, and Merck Serono will have the full responsibility for developing and commercializing IL-17RC. Both compounds are being evaluated for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
Future product candidates resulting from the companies' activities under the research alliance will be exclusively licensed for development and commercialization to either ZymoGenetics or Merck Serono.
Merck Serono is developing atacicept (formerly referred to as TACI-Ig) as a potential treatment of autoimmune disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus nephritis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, as well as B-cell malignancies. The firm initiated a Phase II/III trial of atacicept in SLE patients in June.