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Merck KGaA Licenses Inspirna's Ompenaclid Outside of the US

NEW YORK – Inspirna on Thursday announced that Merck KGaA has licensed its lead candidate, SLC6A8-targeted treatment ompenaclid, and other SLC6A8-targeting follow-on compounds.

Under the agreement, Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck KGaA will receive an exclusive license to ompenaclid outside of the US with an option to codevelop and co-promote ompenaclid in the US. Inspirna will receive a $45 million upfront payment and is eligible for future milestone payments and tiered royalty rates in the low teens on net sales outside of the US.

The firms will also collaborate on Inspirna's follow-on compounds targeting SLC6A8. For each of these compounds, Inspirna is also eligible to receive development, regulatory, and sales milestone payments along with up to double-digit royalties on net sales outside of the US.

Inspirna, based in New York, is studying ompenaclid with chemotherapy and Genentech's Avastin (bevacizumab) in RAS-mutant colorectal cancer in two trials. Results from one trial of ompenaclid demonstrated a 37 percent response rate and a median progression-free survival of 10.2 months and median overall survival of 19.1 months.

"Over the past decade, the treatment paradigm for patients with RAS-mutated colorectal cancer, accounting for approximately 45 percent of second-line population, has not seen major innovation," Victoria Zazulina, head of the oncology development unit for the healthcare business of Merck KGaA, said in a statement. "With our expertise in the treatment of CRC, and based on the encouraging early data for ompenaclid, this agreement with Inspirna offers the opportunity to advance a potential new first-in-class therapy that may improve outcomes for patients."