Million-dollar deal for Complix


The biopharmaceutical company Complix has sealed a deal worth millions with the American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Complix will conduct research for Merck & Co on tackling cancer and autoimmune diseases. The collaboration could result in up to 280 million dollars for Complix, spread over around ten years and various milestone payments. On top of that, the company may receive royalties if Merck can successfully bring the applications onto the market.

The American company is mainly interested in Complix’s ‘Alphabodies’: transformative therapeutic proteins which, more than any other form of cancer therapy, are capable of penetrating cancer cells and attacking specific targets. This therapy looks very promising for use against cancers which are difficult or impossible to treat with existing therapies. The potential of experimental treatments which Complix has developed in the last few years has also not escaped Merck’s notice.

Mark Vaek, Complix CEO, is optimistic: ‘This collaboration with Merck is an important milestone for Complix and shows the potential of our unique cell-penetrating Alphabodies platform (CPAB). We believe that this can be the basis for Merck to produce revolutionary biotherapies to treat cancer. I am convinced that Complix, in collaboration with Merck, will make rapid progress in terms of developing potential CPAB medicines.’

Complix gave preference to a strategic partnership with the American company instead of a take-over. The collaboration with Merck will for the time being remain limited to the development of medicines which focus on two disease targets. ‘The alphabody technology is in its infancy. The full potential of this is still a long way from being fully explored. It would not be expedient to sell everything off now’, Vaeck explained. Nevertheless, the deal is a win-win situation for both parties: Merck obtains exclusive access to the Belgian technology and Complix can work with the knowledge and research budgets of the pharmaceutical firm.

Complix began as a spin-off from the University of Leuven, built further research facilities in Ghent and finally established itself in Diepenbeek. Shareholders include the Limburg Investment Company, Gimv, the Baekeland Fund of the University of Ghent and the University of Leuven’s Gemma Frisius Fund. The Belgian investment companies PMV, Trust Capital and Vesalius Biocapital are also stakeholders.