UK biotechnology company, Vernalis, received a boost yesterday after it revealed that it was set to benefit from an undisclosed milestone payment after Swiss partner, Serono, began a Phase I clinical trial of a new inflammatory disease agent – the first compound to enter the clinic resulting from a collaboration between the two firms.

The trial will include healthy volunteers and aims to assess the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic properties of the compound in question – a selective inhibitor of MMP-12 (matrix metalloprotease inhibitor-12).

Serono will conduct and fund all development activities associated with the programme.