MSD has snapped up British drug discovery group IOmet, securing access to a new batch of preclinical cancer candidates to help stock up its early R&D pipeline.
The move sees Edinburgh, UK-based IOmet - which is focused on the development of innovative oncology medicines with a particular emphasis on cancer immunotherapy and metabolism - become a wholly-owned subsidiary of MSD (called Merck in the US).
The deal, financial terms of which were kept under wraps, adds a comprehensive preclinical pipeline of IDO (indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1), TDO (tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase), and dual-acting IDO/TDO inhibitors to MSD’s pipeline.
IDO1 and TDO are key targets in the cancer immunotherapy field, as over-expression of these enzymes has been detected in a variety of cancers - including glioma, melanoma, lung, ovarian, and colorectal cancers - and is associated with poor prognosis and survival.
“Extensive preclinical evidence, and emerging clinical data, suggests that inhibition of IDO1 and/or TDO may synergise with, and help overcome resistance to, existing clinical cancer therapies, in particular other immunotherapy-based treatments,” said MSD.
According to Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, at Merck Research Laboratories, “the acquisition of IOmet is a further example of Merck’s commitment to fully realising the potential of this rapidly evolving field through our existing innovative portfolio as well as the acquisition of promising immunotherapeutic candidates”.