Merck KGaA Discontinues Development of Lung Cancer Therapy Tecemotide

Merck KGaA will discontinue the clinical development program of its investigational MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy, tecemotide, as a monotherapy in Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), following disappointing Phase III clinical results.  

Luciano Rossetti, global head of research & development at Merck’s biopharmaceutical division, said: “While the data from the exploratory subgroup analysis in the START trial generated a reasonable hypothesis to warrant additional study, the results of the recent trial in Japanese patients decreased the probability of current studies to reach their goals. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue the development of tecemotide as a monotherapy in NSCLC in order to refocus our efforts on other promising candidates in our pipeline, like our anti-PD-L1 antibody MSB0010718C. We remain committed to developing new treatment options for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.”

Merck KGA said it will discontinue all other clinical trials of tecemotide in NSCLC.sponsored by its biopharmaceutical division. The company will continue to supply tecemotide for other trials for other indications as per the company’s agreements.

Tecemotide is an antigen-specific immunotherapy designed to stimulate an individual’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Tecemotide contains a small fragment (a 25 amino acid peptide) of MUC1, a protein that is found on non-small cell lung, breast, colon, kidney, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Tecemotide is thought to work by stimulating a T-cell-mediated immune response against MUC1 that is then directed at cancer cells expressing MUC1.

​Merck KGaA obtained the exclusive worldwide rights for development and  commercialization of tecemotide from Seattle-based Oncothyreon Inc in 2007, in an agreement replacing prior collaboration and supply agreements originally entered in 2001. In Japan, Merck  KGaA, entered into a co-development and co-marketing agreement for tecemotide  with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Source: Merck KGaA

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