Sanofi has entered an agreement with MSD – known as Merck & Co in the US – to collaborate on a phase II trial evaluating its investigational candidate THOR-707 alongside MSD’s immunotherapy Keytruda.

The clinical trial will evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics and preliminary efficacy of THOR-707 combined with or in sequenced administration with MSD’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in patients with various cancers.

THOR-707 is an IL-2 therapeutic designed for the treatment of a range of malignancies and could demonstrate improved pharmacology to allow for less frequent dosing.

In pre-clinical testing, the investigational candidate demonstrated ‘striking synergy’ with anti-PD-1 therapeutics such as Keytruda, according to Sanofi.

Sanofi is already evaluating THOR-707 in an ongoing phase I trial, designed to investigate the safety and tolerability of the drug and determine its recommended phase II dose alone and in combination with anti-PD-1 and anti-EGFR antibodies.

“We believe that THOR-707 has the potential to become a foundation of the next generation of immuno-oncology therapies,” said Peter Adamson, global head, oncology development and paediatric innovation, Sanofi.

“This collaboration with MSD will enable us to explore whether THOR-707 can increase and expand the effectiveness of KEYTRUDA and improve the outcomes for patients with cancer.”

As well as testing THOR-707 alongside Keytruda, Sanofi is separately evaluating the activity of the candidate in combination with other checkpoint inhibitors including its own Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) and with anti-EGFR and anti-CD38 antibodies for a range of types of cancer tumours.