NewLink Genetics Corporation has announced that it had received notification from Merck that the milestone event specified in the license and collaboration agreement between the two companies relating to the further development of the rVSV-EBOV (Ebola) vaccine candidate had been achieved.
Under the terms of the agreement, NewLink Genetics will receive a payment of $20 million in connection with the achievement of the milestone. The milestone pertains to the initiation of a key clinical trial for the vaccine.
"We at NewLink very much appreciate the tremendous support for these studies that we have received from our collaboration partners, including Merck, the government of Canada and the US Department of Health and Human Services (Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), the US Department of Defense, and the World Health Organization, each of which has made critical contributions along the way," said Dr. Charles Link, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Scientific Officer of NewLink Genetics.
Dr. Link continued, "We hope that the initiation of large scale clinical trials in Africa represent another step forward toward finding a solution for this difficult, global problem. This milestone payment will help us continue our significant investment into vaccines for infectious diseases, including Ebola in collaboration with Merck."
The rVSV-EBOV vaccine candidate was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and licensed by BioProtection Systems, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corporation. PHAC will be entitled to a payment from NewLink Genetics in connection with this milestone.
On November 24, 2014, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced that it had entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement with NewLink Genetics pursuant to which Merck obtained an exclusive license to research, develop, manufacture, and distribute the investigational rVSV-EBOV (Ebola) vaccine candidate as well as any follow-on products.