Crucell has been boosted by the news that drugs giant Merck & Co has exercised an option for the exclusive use of the Dutch firm’s PER.C6 technology.

The agreement also gives Merck an option for access to Crucell's AdVac vaccine technology in two unspecified infectious disease areas, while the Leiden-based firm acquires rights to certain cell-line technology developed by Merck for the manufacturing of recombinant proteins. Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.

Jaap Goudsmit, Crucell's chief scientific officer, said his firm is excited about this technology agreement which “represents a further expansion of the relationship between our company and Merck”, after an original cross-licence agreement was executed in December 2006.

The deal comes days after Crucell announced a non-exclusive research licence agreement for its STAR technology with the USA’s Invitrogen Corp which covers the production of monoclonal antibodies.