Ablynx of Belgium has signed a deal to license one of its investigational rheumatoid arthritis drug ozoralizumab to China's Eddingpharm.

Ozoralizumab is a next-generation TNF-alpha targeting ‘nanobody’, which succeeded in Phase II trials for RA before then-partner Pfizer returned the rights to Ablynx in November 2011. Eddingpharm is getting rights to the compound and will be responsible for the clinical development, registration and commercialisation in Greater China.

Cashwise, Ablynx will receive an upfront fee of 2 million euros, plus development and commercial milestones plus tiered, double-digit royalties of up to 20%. This is the second deal the firms have signed after inking a bone treatment pact just under a year ago.

Edwin Moses,Ablynx chief executive, noted that China is “a huge and developing market” and his new partner’s “deep knowledge of the local market, clinical development expertise and our nanobody's potential in the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including RA”, augurs well. His counterpart at Eddingpharm, Ni Xin, argued that the deal “demonstrates that Eddingpharm is the partner of choice in China for biotechnology companies around the world”.