Vernalis is to pocket a payment of 750,000 euros from France's Servier after the firms announced that they have achieved a research milestone in their three-year oncology drug discovery collaboration.

The pact was initiated in May 2009 and the UK firm is getting the cash "in recognition of the achievement of desired potency and selectivity criteria in the programme". It is also entitled to a share in "the downstream success of the product in the form of further milestones and royalties on sales", though terms have not been disclosed.

This is the second collaboration between Vernalis and Servier, and the first is focused on developing two promising cancer targets involved in protein-protein interactions. Ian Garland, Vernalis' chief executive, said that achieving this milestone "demonstrates the strength of our fragment and structure-based drug discovery platforms and I look forward to continued success in our collaboration with Servier".

Emmanuel Canet, head of R&D at what is the world's second largest privately-owned pharmaceutical company, added: “We are very satisfied with this collaboration reaching an important milestone on a truly innovative oncology target".