Merck Serono and Sutro Biopharma have linked hands under a collaboration and license agreement to develop antibody drug conjugates.

The companies will work together to discover and develop multiple ADCs - antibodies linked to cytotoxic drugs for more targeted delivery - using Sutro’s cell-free protein synthesis platforms Xpress CF and Xpress CF.

The US biotech will be responsible for delivering ADCs for Phase I clinical trials, while Merck Serono, the biopharma division of German drug giant Merck, retains responsibility for clinical development and commercialisation of any resulting products. 

As per the deal, Merck Serono will make an upfront payment to Sutro and will fund certain R&D activities, while its partner stands to receive payments on completion of certain research, development and regulatory milestones of up to around 230 million Euros as well as royalties on product sales in return. Further financial details were not disclosed.

Lupin deal

News of the agreement came just a day after Merck Serono announced a long-term strategic partnership with India’s Lupin, signing up the firm for support with implementing its General Medicines portfolio expansion initiative in emerging markets, addressing the local needs for affordable high-quality medicines.

The move builds on an established working relationship between the two companies, and could add up to 20 new products to the current portfolio, with the first launches expected in 2016, Merck said.

Lupin will develop products, provide product dossiers and supply finished products to Merck Serono which, as marketing authorisation holder, will leverage its commercial and medical teams in emerging markets to bring the new medicines in its portfolio to customers.