and bispecific therapeutic antibody candidates. This technology
transfer expands an ongoing collaboration initiated in 2009 that
has resulted in several undisclosed therapeutic candidates for
Merck. Adimab will transfer and license its antibody discovery
and optimization platform to Merck. Merck will receive a custom
human antibody library and will obtain a license to the Adimab
platform for use in all therapeutic areas and targets. Merck has
also secured an option to receive continued improvements to the
Adimab platform, including access to new antibody libraries.
AbCellera has entered a collaboration with Merck to generate
antibodies against an undisclosed disease target. AbCellera will
apply its high-throughput antibody discovery platform to identify
antibodies that specifically modulate target function. Merck has
the option to develop antibody candidates identified through the
collaboration for specified therapeutic applications.
In another cancer pact, ImmunoGen and Merck joined forces
to evaluate an ovarian cancer drug combo. The clinical research
collaboration was set up to assess ImmunoGen’s mirvetuximab
soravtansine in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy,
Keytruda (pembrolizumab), for the treatment of patients with
FRα-positive ovarian cancer. ImmunoGen is conducting a Phase
Ib/II trial evaluating mirvetuximab soravtansine for FRα-positive
ovarian cancer used in combination with other anticancer agents.
The assessment of mirvetuximab soravtansine with Keytruda will
be added to this trial, with Merck supplying the Keytruda. The
agreement may be expanded to include a subsequent Phase III
Merck and Moderna Therapeutics formed a $200 million strategic collaboration and license agreement to develop and commercialize novel messenger RNA (mRNA)-based personalized
cancer vaccines. The collaboration will combine Merck’s established leadership in immuno-oncology with Moderna’s pioneering mRNA vaccine technology and GMP manufacturing capabilities to advance individually tailored cancer vaccines for patients
across a spectrum of cancers.
Moderna and Merck will develop personalized cancer vaccines that utilize Moderna’s mRNA vaccine technology to encode
a patient’s specific neoantigens, unique mutations present in that
specific patient’s tumor. When injected into a patient, the vaccine
will be designed to elicit a specific immune response that will recognize and destroy cancer cells. The companies believe that the
mRNA-based personalized cancer vaccines’ ability to specifically
activate an individual patient’s immune system has the potential
to be synergistic with checkpoint inhibitor therapies, including
Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab). In addition, Moderna has developed a rapid cycle time, small-batch
manufacturing technique that will uniquely allow the company
to supply vaccines tailored to individual patients within weeks.
The development program will entail multiple studies in several types of cancer and include the evaluation of mRNA-based
personalized cancer vaccines in combination with Merck’s Key-
Sales of Merck’s cancer drug Keytruda grew 150% in 2016 to $1.4 billion.
MERCK, FUJIFILM PARTNER ON $60M MICROBIAL BIOLOGICS FACILITY
New 20,000-liter facility to be used by Fujifilm for its contract development and
During the year Merck formed a long-term collaboration with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, a global biologics
contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), to invest in and operate a new 20,000 liter large-scale microbial-biologics facility for supply of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to its customers.
This collaboration involves a $60 million investment by Merck at its Brinny manufacturing plant in Innishannon, County Cork, Ireland.
Merck in Brinny has been in operation for more than 30 years and is an integrated site for the development, testing and manufacturing
It is intended that the large-scale biologics operations at Merck in Brinny will be operational in early 2018 for biotech and pharma
customers of Fujifilm Diosynth.
The deal addresses a market need for large-scale microbial biologics manufacturing and complements Fujifilm Diosynth’s existing
microbial capacity that ranges from 100L up to 5000L both in the U.S. and UK.
According to the company, microbial fermentation remains vital technology for the process of manufacturing biologics, and this investment, drawing on the latest production advances, will enable Fujifilm Diosynth’s existing and future customers to have a clear and
secure line-of-sight to higher product volumes along with lower cost-of-goods. The latter is particularly important as products enter late
clinical phase and commercialization.