Lilly, Merck & Co. Expand Immuno-Oncology Pact

Eli Lilly and Company has expanded an existing immuno-oncology collaboration with Merck & Co., through a subsidiary, to add a new study of Lilly’s anti-cancer drug, Lartruvo (olaratumab), in combination with Merck’s immuno-oncology drug, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), in patients with previously treated advanced or metastatic soft tissue sarcoma (STS).

Lilly is sponsoring the Phase I study of the combination drug regimen. Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Lilly’s Lartruvo is a platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFR-α)-blocking antibody indicated, in combination with doxorubicin, for treating adult patients with STS. Lartruvo, in combination with doxorubicin, also recently received conditional marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for treating adults with advanced STS not amenable to curative treatment with surgery or radiotherapy and who have not been previously treated with doxorubicin.

Merk’s Keytruda is a programmed death (PD)-1 inhibitor that is indicated for treating melanoma, lung cancer, and head and neck cancer. Keytruda also recently received a positive opinion from EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommending approval for the first-line treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in adults whose tumors have high PD-L1 expression with no endothelial growth factor receptor or anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive tumor mutations.

In addition to this expanded collaboration, Lilly and Merck have several other ongoing drug trials. The companies have studies of pemetrexed (plus carboplatin) and pembrolizumab in first-line nonsquamous NSCLC, including a Phase III study that is currently enrolling patients; a Phase I study examining the combination of ramucirumab with pembrolizumab in NSCLC, gastric cancer and bladder cancer; a Phase I study examining the combination of necitumumab with pembrolizumab in NSCLC; and a Phase I study examining the combination of abemaciclib, a CDK 4 and 6 inhibitor, with pembrolizumab.

Source: Eli Lilly and Company

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