Merck KGaA has linked up with the USA's Threshold Pharmaceutical to co-develop and commercialise the latter's late-stage hypoxia-targeted drug for certain cancers.

The drug, TH-302 is currently undergoing a Phase III clinical trial in patients with soft tissue sarcoma, and is in Phase II in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Other studies are ongoing  in other solid tumours and haematological malignancies.

Threshold will receive an upfront payment of $25 million, along with further potential milestone payments which could total $525 million. Susan Jane Herbert, head of global business development and strategy at the German firm's Merck Serono unit, said the addition of TH-302 to the pipeline "provides an important opportunity in several different tumor types to expand our oncology development programme".

She added that "given the fact that pancreatic cancer is a very difficult to treat indication, successful Phase II results could represent important upside for our company.”