Pfizer, Merck KGaA Advance Immunotherapy
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer have initiated a Phase III clinical trial for the companyies’ investigational cancer immunotherapy, avelumab to treat non-small cell lung cancer. The drug is part of the immunotherapy alliance that Pfizer and Merck KGaA formed in November 2014.
Avelumab is an investigational fully human anti-PD-L1 IgG1 monoclonal antibody. By inhibiting PD-L1 interactions, avelumab is thought to enable the activation of T-cells and the adaptive immune system. By retaining a native Fc-region, avelumab is thought to engage the innate immune system and induce antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. In November, 2014, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize avelumab.
The clinical trial will study avelumab, compared with docetaxel, in patients with Stage IIIb/IV non-small cell lung cancer who have experienced disease progression after receiving a prior platinum-containing doublet therapy.
The immuno-oncology alliance between the companies will jointly develop and commercialize avelumab and advance Pfizer's PD-1 antibody. The companies will collaborate on up to 20 high priority immuno-oncology clinical development programs, including combination trials, many of which are expected to commence in 2015.