The UK’s Vernalis and Servier, France’s largest privately-owned pharmaceutical company, have linked up for a collaboration designed to develop a promising oncology compound.

Under the terms of the deal, financial details for which were not disclosed, the firms will use Vernalis’ proprietary drug discovery platform on an undisclosed target and the Winnersh-based firm will receive an upfront payment “and a share in the downstream success of the product”.

Servier’s R&D president Laurent Perret said that his firm is committed to provide patients “with novel therapeutic approaches for treating these devastating pathologies”. Vernalis’ chief executive Simon Sturge added that the deal is an important step for his firm “and further validates our fragment-based drug discovery platform".

He added that the collaboration with Servier follows on from a recent announcement that another of its partners, Novartis, has selected a second compound that inhibits Hsp90, a target for a number of different cancer indications, which was “also discovered using our innovative platform, as a preclinical development candidate”.