Abbott Laboratories is paying a $25 million upfront fee to get rights to a very early-stage cancer treatment discovered by Pierre Fabre.

Abbott has signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Pierre Fabre to develop and commercialise h224G11, a pre-clinical monoclonal antibody identified by the French drugmaker which targets the cMet receptor for the treatment of cancer. The firms noted that the cMet protein plays a role in the progression of a range of solid tumours including prostate, lung and gastric cancers and mediates resistance to chemotherapy.

Cashwise, only the upfront payment was disclosed but Pierre Fabre will get research funding to support discovery efforts for two years, plus various milestones and royalties. As part of the agreement, the companies also intend to collaborate on research to explore next-generation cMet antibodies”.

John Leonard, senior vice president of global R&D at Abbott, says that cMet is “a compelling cancer target and the early research on this compound looks promising”. He added that getting hold of the compound is an important addition “to our strong oncology pipeline, which includes exploration of multiple mechanisms to treat cancer”.

Jean-Pierre Garnier, Pierre Fabre’s chief executive, said the firm has been able to develop “potent and protein specific inhibitors of the cMet receptor” and “we are delighted to partner this important asset with Abbott”.