Merck and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have announced a global alliance to jointly develop and commercialise M7824 (bintrafusp alfa), a novel immunotherapy with potential in multiple difficult to treat cancers.
M7824 is an investigational bifunctional fusion protein immunotherapy that is currently in clinical development, including potential registration studies, for multiple difficult-to-treat cancers. It 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.
“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,” said Belén Garijo, member of the executive board and chief executive, healthcare, at Merck.
She continued, “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 will receive an upfront payment of 300 million euros (£264 million) and is eligible for potential development milestone payments of up to 500 million euros (£440 million), plus future approval and commercial milestones of up to 2.9 billion euros (£2.5 billion)
For GSK, this alliance is a further step in the company’s priority to strengthen its pharmaceuticals pipeline. This follows its recent acquisition of Tesoro, an oncology-focused company based in Waltham, Massachusetts.