MSD, known as Merck in the US and Canada, has announced two new oncology collaborations with biotech company and oncology specialist Seattle Genetics.

As part of the agreement, the companies will jointly develop and commercialise Seattle's investigational antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) ladiratuzumab vedotin, which is currently in Phase II clinical trials for breast cancer and other solid tumours.LI

This collaboration will evaluate the ADC as both a monotherapy and in combination with MSD’s PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in triple-negative breast cancer, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and other solid tumours expressing LIV-1.

Under the terms of the deal, Seattle will receive and upfront payment of $600m, with MSD also making a $1bn equity investment in five million shares of the company, at a price of $200 per share.  On top of that, Seattle is also eligible to progress-dependent milestone payments of up to $2.6bn related to the ladiratuzumab vedotin clinical programme.

In a separate agreement, Seattle has also granted MSD an exclusive license to commercialise Tukysa (tucatinib), a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of HER-2 positive cancers, in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as other regions outside the US, Canada and Europe.

MSD will pay $125m to Seattle for this exclusive license, and Seattle will also be eligible for further progress-dependent milestones of up to $65m.

“Collaborating with Merck on ladiratuzumab vedotin will allow us to accelerate and broaden its development programme in breast cancer and other solid tumours, including in combination with Merck’s Keytruda, while also positioning us to leverage our US and European commercial operations,” said Clay Siegall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seattle Genetics.

“The strategic collaboration for Tukysa will help us reach more patients globally and benefit from the established commercial strength of one of the world’s premier pharmaceutical companies,” he added.

“These two strategic collaborations will enable us to further diversify Merck’s broad oncology portfolio and pipeline, and to continue our efforts to extend and improve the lives of as many patients with cancer as possible,” said Roger M. Perlmutter, President of Merck Research Laboratories.