Merck Serono Inks $941 MM CART-T DealBy
Intrexon Corporation, a company specializing in synthetic biology, and Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, have formed an exclusive strategic collaboration and license agreement to develop and commercialize chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) cancer therapies. CAR-T cells are genetically engineered T-cells with synthetic receptors that recognize a specific antigen expressed on tumor cells. When CAR-T cells bind to a target, an immunological attack against the cancer cells is triggered.
The agreement provides Merck Serono exclusive access to Intrexon’s proprietary and complementary suite of technologies to engineer T-cells with optimized and inducible gene expression, as recently strengthened by a license agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Intrexon will be responsible for all platform and product developments until IND filing. Merck will nominate targets of interest for which CAR-T products will be developed. Merck will also lead the IND filing and pre-IND interactions, clinical development and commercialization. In addition, Intrexon has the opportunity to explore targets independently, granting Merck opt-in rights during clinical development.
Under the terms of the agreement, Intrexon will receive an upfront payment of $115 million. For the first two targets of interest selected by Merck Serono, Intrexon will receive research funding and is eligible to receive up to $826 million development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties on product sales. In addition, Intrexon is also eligible to receive further payments upon achievement of certain technology development milestones.