Merck Serono and MorphoSys AG announced that they have signed an agreement to discover and develop therapeutic antibodies against undisclosed immune checkpoints.
Under the terms of the agreement, MorphoSys and Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, will join forces to develop therapies that modulate the immune system’s natural ability to fight tumors. MorphoSys, a leader in fully human antibody technologies, will apply its proprietary Ylanthia antibody phage library and technology platform to identify antibodies against the targets of interest. Merck Serono with its strong portfolio and capabilities in the field of immuno-oncology and clinical development will be fully responsible for execution of development from Phase I onwards.
“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 VP of Immuno-Oncology at Merck Serono. “Combining Merck Serono’s extensive expertise in immuno-oncology with MorphoSys’ next-generation antibody technology provides us with an exciting opportunity to rapidly generate novel therapies with a clear potential to benefit cancer patients.”
“Therapeutic agents in the immuno-oncology field are set to transform cancer therapy, and we are delighted to work with Merck Serono in this area”, commented Dr. Simon Moroney, Chief Executive Officer of MorphoSys. “We believe that our Ylanthia technology has the potential to provide truly differentiated antibodies against the targets that will be the subject of the collaboration. Merck Serono’s expertise in immuno-oncology, together with their strength in developing and commercializing therapeutic antibodies make them an ideal partner for MorphoSys.”
With this partnership, Merck Serono, is committed to strengthen its existing portfolio of cancer immunotherapies that work as monotherapies or in combination with other therapeutic modalities. The company’s immuno-oncology pipeline assets currently investigated in clinical trials span from Phase l to Phase III for the treatment of different cancer types, including tecemotide, a MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy, the two immunocytokines NHS-IL2 (MSB0010445) and NHS-IL12 (MSB0010360), and the monoclonal antibody anti-PD-L1 (MSB0010718C). Beyond this, Merck Serono has built a robust pre-clinical pipeline in the three Innovation Clusters therapeutic cancer vaccines, cancer stem cells, and tumor immunotolerance.
Under the terms of the co-development and license agreement, MorphoSys will co-fund research & 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.
Date: June 12, 2014
Source: Merck Serono