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Idera Pharmaceuticals Inc. is due about $3.8 million from Germany’s Merck KGaA, following the Cambridge biotech’s milestone achievement under a global licensing agreement. The milestone relates to Merck’s start of a Phase 1b clinical trial that tests Idera’s licensed Toll-like Receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist compound, called IMO-2055, in combination with drug treatments cisplatin, fluorouracil and cetuximab for the treatment of head and neck cancer.

Idera (Nasdaq: IDRA) begans its licensing and collaboration deal with Merck, which is potentially worth more than $400 million, in December 2007.  The agreement originally called for Merck to pay Idera an initial $40 million licensing fee and potential milestone payments of $381 million. In November, the two companies agreed to extend the deal through December 2010.

The Phase 1b clinical trial is being conducted alongside a Phase 2 trial of IMO-2055, which is being tested in combination with Merck’s cetuximab drug alone, for the treatment of head and neck cancer.  That milestone, announced in January, was expected to bring about $4.3 million in payments to Idera.

Idera is developing its drugs to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

 

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