Merck KGaA, Forty Seven Inc. in Ovarian Cancer Pact

Merck KGaA and Forty Seven Inc., a Menlo Park, California-headquartered clinical-stage company developing immuno-oncology treatments, have agreed to conduct a clinical trial combining Hu5F9-G4, a monoclonal antibody against the CD47 receptor, with Merck KGaA’s and Pfizer’s Bavencio (avelumab), an anti-programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) antibody, in patients with ovarian cancer.

PD-L1 and CD47 are immunosuppressant molecules overexpressed on cancer cells that send inhibitory signals to T cells and macrophages, respectively, according to information from Forty Seven Inc. The company notes that binding of avelumab to PD-L1 “takes the brakes off T cells” and, in a similar way, binding of Hu5F9-G4 to CD47 “takes the brakes off” macrophages.

In the US, Bavencio (avelumab) is approved for treating Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare form of skin cancer, and for treating locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma. Avelumab is under clinical investigation for the treatment of ovarian cancer. In November 2014, Merck KGaA and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance in immuno-oncology, which included the co-development and co-commercialization of avelumab

Source: Forty Seven Inc.

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