Merck Serono said today it will expand a six-month collaboration with BeiGene by developing and commercializing a second compound of the Chinese biotech, a preclinical poly [ADP-ribose] polymerase (PARP) inhibitor for cancer named BeiGene-290, in a deal that could net the Chinese biotech up to €170 million ($232 million) above an undisclosed up-front payment.

The payments to follow the up-front money are tied to undisclosed clinical development and potential commercial milestones in China and the rest of the world. BeiGene could also see royalties based on net sales as part of the global licensing deal.

Under their latest agreement, Merck Serono will oversee development and commercialization of BeiGene-290 worldwide except in China, where BeiGene will have that responsibility. The compound is expected to enter clinical trials next year.

“This collaboration helps to accelerate the global development and commercialization of this China-discovered oncology innovation, something BeiGene could not have achieved alone,” BeiGene CEO John Oyler said in a statement. “This deal and Merck’s previous deal with BeiGene to develop the second-generation, China-discovered BRAF inhibitor, BGB-283, demonstrate Merck’s deep commitment to China and external innovation.”

MerckSerono, the drug discovery unit of Merck KGaA, said May 31 it would co-develop another preclinical cancer compound, BeiGene’s second-generation BRAF inhibitor BGB-283, also for an undisclosed up-front payment plus up to $233 million, and double-digit royalties on net sales. Merck Serono will develop and commercialize BGB-283 worldwide, except for China, where BeiGene will do both. BGB-283 is also due to enter the clinic in 2014.

Founded in 2010, BeiGene focuses on developing oral small molecules and monoclonal antibodies for cancer, through its team of about 150 scientists and staff, as well as partner companies. Furthest along in the company’s pipeline is BGB-102, a Phase I multityrosine kinase inhibitor also known as MTKi-327—and one of two compounds BeiGene is licensing from and codeveloping with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutica under a 2011 agreement.

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