Belgian biotechnology firm Galapagos has signed a pact with Merck & Co to treat inflammatory disease.

The deal, which could be worth up over 192 million euros, includes an upfront payment of 2.5 million euros. The alliance use Galapagos' SilenceSelect target discovery platform to identify compounds in inflammatory diseases and after screening and chemistry by the Mechelen-based group, Merck will then the option to acquire an exclusive license to each candidate.

The New Jersey-headquartered drugmaker will be responsible for the development and commercialisation of the candidate drug. In addition to the aforementioned 192 million euro total, Galapagos may also receive sales milestones and royalties once any of the products hit the market.

Chief executive Onno van de Stolpe said that the inflammatory pact with Merck, “our sixth pharma alliance to date, underscores the quality and versatility of Galapagos's target discovery platform”. He added that the firm has proven “it delivers on its alliance programmes, making us attractive to potential pharma partners seeking to fill their pipelines with medicines based on novel modes of action."

The inflammatory link-up follows another partnership signed with Merck at the beginning of the year for obesity and diabetes treatments. Galapagos’ other partners include GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Eli Lilly.