Oxford, UK-based Adaptimmune has formed a clinical trial pact with MSD to test a potential new combination therapy for multiple myeloma.

The groups will assess Adaptimmune's NY-ESO SPEAR (Specific Peptide Enhanced Affinity Receptor) T-cell therapy in combination with MSD's anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in patients with the blood cancer.

The study, which is planned for the first half of 2017 and is sponsored by Adaptimmune, will design the safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and preliminary efficacy of the combination.

Adaptimmune's SPEAR T-cell candidates are novel cancer immunotherapies engineered to target and destroy cancer cells. NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell therapy has already been assessed in multiple myeloma in a single agent Phase I/II trial, in which 20 out of 22 patients (91 percent) experienced a response at day 100 post autologous stem cell transplant.

Keytruda is a humanised monoclonal antibody that boosts the ability of the body's immune system to help detect and fight tumour cells, through blocking the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands thus activating T lymphocytes.

"There is preclinical evidence to support the view that the combination of NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell therapy and anti-PD1 therapy may lead to meaningful anti-tumor activity," said said Rafael Amado, Adaptimmune's chief medical officer, explaining the premise for the deal.

Further details were not disclosed at this time.