OPKO Health’s ModeX Therapeutics has entered into an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, for the development of MDX-2201, ModeX’s preclinical nanoparticle vaccine candidate targeting Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
“We are delighted to enter this collaboration with Merck to develop a vaccine against EBV, a virus that takes a profound toll on human health worldwide. Targeting four proteins used by EBV to infect cells, this vaccine candidate embodies the novel multitargeting approach developed by ModeX scientists,” said Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of ModeX and chief innovation officer of OPKO.
Under the terms of the agreement, OPKO will receive an upfront payment of $50 million and is eligible for milestone payments associated with progress in the development and commercialization of MDX-2201 of up to $872.5 million, as well as royalties on global sales.
ModeX and Merck will jointly advance MDX-2201 to an Investigational New Drug (IND) application filing, after which Merck will be responsible for clinical and regulatory activities, as well as product commercialization. Pre-IND filing activity will be guided by a joint steering committee comprised of representatives from both companies.
“We founded ModeX to develop innovative multispecific biologics for cancer and infectious diseases that target multifactorial pathways that cause illness,” said Elias Zerhouni, M.D., president and vice chairman of OPKO. “This first collaboration leverages our scientific excellence and innovative platforms along with Merck’s discovery and clinical development expertise with the goal of benefiting patients around the world.”
“Through the acquisition of ModeX, we broadened our technology foundation and expanded our product pipeline into new therapeutic areas,” said Phillip Frost, M.D., chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OPKO. “Merck represents the ideal partner to develop and commercialize a new vaccine candidate, and we are particularly proud to enter into this high-potential agreement so soon after completing the ModeX transaction last May.”
“At Merck we have a proud legacy of developing vaccines including several that have the potential to help protect against certain types of cancer,” said Tarit Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., vice president, Infectious Diseases and Vaccine Discovery, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with the ModeX Therapeutics team to apply our experience and expertise to evaluate the potential of MDX-2201 to help protect against EBV infection and other, potentially related, conditions.”