Sanofi-Aventis has announced agreements to license, develop and commercialise a promising first-in-class, human monoclonal antibody for the management of solid malignancies from Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.

Under the global collaboration and licensing agreement Sanofi-Aventis will receive worldwide license to develop, manufacture and commercialise the treatment known as MM-121, while Merrimack will retain potential co-promotion rights in the US.

MM-121 is a first-in-class, fully human monoclonal antibody, in Phase 1I clinical testing, that is designed to block signalling of the ErbB3 (HER3) receptor, for the management of solid malignancies.

Sanofi-Aventis senior vice-president of R&D Marc Cluzel said that MM-121 is a pioneering monoclonal antibody that brings a new innovative approach to Sanofi-Aventis’ oncology portfolio.

“MM-121 is a very promising compound that will address a significant gap in treating cancer patients,” Cluzel said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi-Aventis will pay Merrimack an upfront cash payment of $60m for the research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation rights.

Merrimack will also be eligible for development and regulatory milestone payments up to $410m on royalties on the worldwide product sales and will receive additional performance milestones of up to $60m.