Eisai and Merck & Co have signed a deal to put various combinations of their cancer drugs through clinical testing.

The clinical trial collaboration will assess the safety, tolerability and efficacy of Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, pembrolizumab (marketed as Keytruda in the US) in combination with Eisai’s oncology compounds lenvatinib mesylate (Lenvima in the US) and eribulin mesylate (Halaven) across multiple studies.

Already in the pipeline are Phase Ib/II studies evaluating a combination of lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab in select solid tumours and eribulin/pembrolizumab in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, which are pegged to begin in the second half of this year.

The drugmakers said they would set up a Joint Development Committee to oversee clinical development activities, but financial terms of the deal were kept tightly under wraps.