Ambrx Inc. has announced that it has entered into a global, strategic collaboration with Merck & Co. Inc. to develop a therapeutic protein with biological properties similar to Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF-21) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders such as obesity.
The collaboration utilizes Ambrx's proprietary protein technology, ReCODE™, to develop a chemically modified and optimized drug candidate designed to have improved therapeutic properties over the native FGF-21 protein.
"We are pleased to enter into this agreement with Merck, a world leader in the metabolic diseases field with a proven track record in the rapid development and launch of diabetes medicines," said Stephen W. Kaldor, Ph.D., Ambrx's president and chief executive officer.
Mr. Kaldor added, "We are excited about the potential of our initial FGF-21 protein drug candidates, as they promise unique pharmacological efficacy in the treatment of diabetes, a disease of large and rapidly increasing prevalence."
"Molecules capable of mimicking the biological properties of the natural protein FGF-21 represent promising candidates for the treatment of metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity," said Luciano Rossetti, M.D., senior vice president and franchise head, Diabetes/Obesity and Cardiovascular Franchises at Merck.
"Ambrx has developed several novel preclinical protein therapeutic candidates designed to provide enhanced therapeutic properties that may complement our portfolio of products for people with metabolic disorders."
The transaction includes an initial upfront payment in addition to committed R&D payments. Ambrx will also be eligible to receive future milestone payments associated with research, development and commercialization of a drug candidate resulting from the collaboration along with royalties on net sales.
Ambrx also has the right to exercise an "end of Phase II" profit sharing option. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed. It is expected that this collaboration, in conjunction with three others announced this year, will preclude the necessity for Ambrx to raise additional equity capital for a number of years.