Merck Serono, MorphoSys Sign Immuno-Oncology Antibody Pact

MorphoSys AG, a provider of human antibody technologies, and Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, have signed an agreement to discover and develop therapeutic antibodies against undisclosed immune checkpoints.

MorphoSys will apply its proprietary Ylanthia antibody phage library and technology platform to identify antibodies against targets of interest. Merck Serono will be fully responsible for execution of development from Phase I onwards. MorphoSys will co-fund research and development costs with the option to opt-out at predefined stages. MorphoSys will be eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments, and in addition, tiered royalties on product sales that will reflect the extent of MorphoSys co-funding. Merck Serono will have sole responsibility for commercializing of any resulting products. Further financial details are not being disclosed.

“The establishment of partnerships with companies with innovative technology platforms is an integral part of Merck Serono’s strategy to further expand upon our already diverse immuno-oncology portfolio,” said Dr. Helen Sabzevari, senior vice-president of immuno-oncology at Merck Serono, in MorpoSys press release. “Combining Merck Serono’s extensive expertise in immuno-oncology with MorphoSys’s next-generation antibody technology provides us with an exciting opportunity to rapidly generate novel therapies with a clear potential to benefit cancer patients.”

Merck Serono’s immuno-oncology pipeline assets currently investigated in clinical trials span from Phase I to Phase III for the treatment of different cancer types, including tecemotide, a MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy, two immunocytokines NHS-IL2 (MSB0010445) and NHS-IL12 (MSB0010360), and the monoclonal antibody anti-PD-L1 (MSB0010718C). Its pre-clinical pipeline is focuses on three innovation clusters: therapeutic cancer vaccines, cancer stem cells, and tumor immunotolerance.

See related story, Immunotherapies: The Next Wave in Biologic-Based Oncology Drugs

Source: MorphoSys AG


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