Galapagos NV announced today that it has expanded its global strategic alliance in metabolic diseases with an affiliate of Merck & Co., Inc to incorporate the development of new therapies for atherosclerosis. Galapagos will be responsible for the discovery and pre-clinical development of new small molecule candidate drugs based on novel Galapagos targets. The alliance will make use of Galapagos' proprietary target discovery platform for identification of novel targets in atherosclerosis, as well as in obesity and diabetes. After validation, targets will be selected by a joint steering committee and entered into screening and chemistry by Galapagos. Merck will have an exclusive option to license in each candidate for clinical development and commercialization on a worldwide basis. Upon exercise of such option, Merck will be responsible for the development and commercialization of the candidate drug. Galapagos may execute Phase I clinical studies and will have the right to further develop and commercialize certain compounds for which Merck does not exercise its exclusive option. In January 2009, Galapagos announced an alliance with Merck in diabetes and obesity, with milestone payments with the potential to exceed EUR 170 million. Under the terms of this expanded agreement, that now includes small molecule candidate drugs for pre-clinical development in atherosclerosis, Galapagos is eligible to receive research, regulatory and sales milestone payments that may total in excess of EUR 400 million. In addition Galapagos is eligible to receive royalties upon commercialization of any products covered under the agreement. The expansion announced today is separate from Galapagos' alliance with Merck in inflammatory diseases announced in April 2009. "We are pleased to expand our relationship with Merck, a highly synergetic and decisive partner in the metabolic and inflammation alliances," said Onno van de Stolpe, CEO. "Today's expansion into atherosclerosis fits very well into our strategy of leveraging the novelty coming out of Galapagos' R&D approach." "Merck's extended collaboration with Galapagos underscores our ongoing commitment to identifying novel therapeutic targets for fighting cardiovascular and metabolic diseases," said Catherine Strader, Vice President, External Basic Research, Merck Research Laboratories.