Merck & Co. Enters Collaboration with Themis Bioscience for Vaccine Candidates
MSD, known as Merck & Co., Inc. in the U.S. and Canada, has agreed to a collaboration with Themis Biosciences, a developer of therapies for infectious diseases and cancer, for the discovery and development of undisclosed vaccine candidates using Themis’ measles virus vector-based platform. Themis is eligible for up to $200 million in milestone payments.
Themis’ vaccination vector has the ability to incorporate large recombinant genes coding for selected antigens into its genome. The vaccine delivers the selected antigens directly to the most potent and effective antigen-presenting cells, thereby triggering a specific immune response to the selected antigens. The vaccine continuously expresses antigens even after immunization as a replicating vector. Themis says this results in an antigen-focused immune response, which is expected to confer long-term immunity. Themis’ measles vector platform was developed at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France and is now licensed to Themis.
Under the agreement, Themis will develop vaccine candidates against an undisclosed disease target. MSD will provide research funding and make an equity investment in Themis. In addition, Themis will be eligible to receive development and sales milestone payments up to the potential value of approximately $200 million, as well as royalties on approved products from the collaboration.