Immunocore and Lilly have formed a clinical trials pact to test the potential of combining their immunotherapies to fight skin cancer.

The groups will carry out a Phase Ib study assessing the safety and preliminary efficacy of Immunocore’s lead T-cell receptor based investigational therapeutic IMCgp100 alongside Lilly’s galunisertib in metastatic cutaneous melanoma. 

A second Phase Ib/II study is to be carried out combining IMCgp100 with merestinib as a potential treatment for metastatic uveal melanoma.

Further terms of the deal are largely being kept under wraps, but it was revealed that Lilly will sponsor both trials, which are scheduled to begin in 2016.

Under Lilly’s strategy of building a robust offering of experimental immunotherapies, the US drugs giant signed a deal with Immunocore last year for access to its ImmTAC technology to discover and develop new T-cell based therapies able to harness the power of the immune system to fight off cancer.

This technology engineers high-affinity T Cell receptors linked to an antibody fragment, anti-CD3, which can activate the immune system to kill targeted cancer cells while avoiding damage to healthy tissues, a holy grail of cancer treatment.