Just days after announcing its mega-deal with Cubist Merck & Co is on the acquisition trial again with its sights set on private Swiss cancer biotech OncoEthix.

The drug giant, which is known as MSD outside the US and Canada, said today it is acquiring the firm to expand its oncology profile, taking OncoEthix’ novel oral BET (bromodomain) inhibitors - including lead candidate OTX015 - into its fold.

OTX015, which is currently being tested in Phase Ib studies for the treatment of haematological malignancies and advanced solid tumours, “has demonstrated early promising activity” and “strategically complements” Merck’s immuno-oncology development program, the firm said.

From the other side, OncoEthix said it is confident that the deal “best positions OTX015 to be developed to its full potential in areas of high unmet medical need”.

Under the deal, Merck will hand out an upfront payment of $110 million to OncoEthix, as well as additional milestone payments of up to $265 million if certain clinical and regulatory events are achieved.