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  • Partnership to Develop Immunotherapy for difficult-to-treat Cancers

Partnership to Develop Immunotherapy for difficult-to-treat Cancers

Mar 10 2019 Read 583 Times

An alliance between GlaxoSmithKline plc and Merck KGaA, (Darmstadt, Germany), is to jointly develop and commercialise M7824 (bintrafusp alfa*), an investigational bifunctional fusion protein immunotherapy that is currently in clinical development, including potential registration studies, for multiple difficult-to-treat cancers. This includes a Phase II trial to investigate M7824 compared with pembrolizumab as a first-line treatment in patients with PD-L1 expressing advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

M7824 is designed to simultaneously target two immuno-suppressive pathways, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) trap and an anti-programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), that are commonly used by cancer cells to evade the immune system. In addition to use as a single agent, M7824 is also being considered for use in combination with other assets from the pipelines of both companies.

Dr Hal Barron, Chief Scientific Officer and President R&D, GSK, said: “Despite recent medical advances, many patients with difficult-to-treat cancers don’t currently benefit from immuno-oncology therapies leaving them with limited treatment options. M7824 brings together two different biological functions in a single molecule and we have observed encouraging clinical results in treating certain cancer patients, particularly those people with non-small cell lung cancer. I’m excited by the potential impact this first-in-class immunotherapy could have on the lives of cancer patients.”

Dr Belén Garijo, Member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany said: “Our bifunctional fusion protein M7824 has the potential to bring new answers to patients living with cancer. Together with GSK we aim to drive a paradigm shift in the treatment of cancer as the leader in this novel class of immunotherapies. GSK clearly emerged as the ideal partner due to their strong commitment to oncology, and the complementary talent and capabilities they will bring to our alliance. We now look forward to harnessing the full potential of M7824 across a broad range of cancer indications as we continue to advance our oncology portfolio.”

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will receive an upfront payment of €300 million (£260 million) and is eligible for potential development milestone payments of up to €500 million (£440 million) triggered by data from the M7824 lung cancer programme. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will also be eligible for further payments upon successfully achieving future approval and commercial milestones of up to €2.9 billion (£2.5 billion). The total potential deal value is up to €3.7 billion (£3.2 billion). Both companies will jointly conduct development and commercialisation with all profits and costs from the collaboration being shared equally on a global basis.

*Bintrafusp alfa is the proposed International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for the bifunctional immunotherapy M7824. Bintrafusp alfa is currently under clinical investigation and not approved for any use anywhere in the world.

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Lab Asia December 2019

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