Wilex AGUCB Pharma S.A. (UCB) and Wilex AG, a company specialising in the development of drugs and diagnostic agents for cancer (Wilex), announced that they have agreed to enter into a strategic partnership.

Wilex will acquire world-wide rights to develop UCB's entire preclinical oncology portfolio, comprising two small-molecule programmes and three antibody programmes.

UCB retains exclusive rights to re-purchase each of the five programmes, following completion of initial clinical feasibility studies for each programme, and assume the responsibility for further development and commercialization of each product. In this case, Wilex will receive development and commercialization milestone payments and royalty payments from UCB.

Alternatively, in the event UCB does not exercise its re-purchase right for each programme, Wilex will retain rights to develop as well as commercialize each programme and UCB will receive milestone and royalty payments from Wilex.

As a strategic investor, UCB will invest EUR 10 million in Wilex upon closing and will also make milestone payments of EUR 10 million in total upon application of clinical phase I trial and first dose in man, expected within approximately twelve months upon closing.

"Wilex is the ideal strategic partner for developing our promising preclinical oncology portfolio," said Dr Melanie Lee, executive vice-president UCB and President UCB New Medicines. "This alliance will give UCB the opportunity to focus our R&D priorities in our core indication areas, central nervous system and immunology, as defined in UCB's SHAPE programme, while benefiting from Wilex's comprehensive oncology expertise, focus and know-how."

Professor Olaf G. Wilhelm, chairman of the executive management board of Wilex AG, commented, "The strategic alliance with UCB is an important step in Wilex's history. UCB's innovative preclinical oncology portfolio ideally supplements and expands our advanced clinical pipeline whilst providing access to UCB's broad antibody technology. We have gained in UCB, not only an important development partner, but also a strong strategic investor which will help to further the development of our company."

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