Mersana Therapeutics and the biopharmaceutical division of Merckhave agreed to collaboratively develop next-generation antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). ADCs are composed of an antibody linked to cytotoxic drugs, whereby the antibody specifically targets and delivers the cytotoxic drug to cancer cells, which could lead to higher drug levels at the tumor site.
Mersana and Merck will leverage Mersana’s Fleximer technology to generate ADCs for multiple undisclosed targets. Both parties have agreed to test a variety of ADCs by utilizing Mersana’s platform technologies and several cytotoxic agents as conjugates.
“This new collaboration provides an exciting opportunity to expand our oncology drug discovery and development portfolio into the evolving ADC space,” said Dr. Andree Blaukat, head of translational innovation platform oncology at Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck. “We have a long-standing commitment to improving oncology care, and we aim to deliver the best benefit possible to patients. Partnering with Mersana allows us to incorporate cutting-edge research and technical excellence to enrich our pipeline.”
Merck will provide monoclonal antibodies to Mersana, which will generate the Fleximer-ADCs and conduct drug discovery and preclinical development activities. Merck will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization of any products under an exclusive license from Mersana. In addition to an upfront payment, Mersana is eligible to receive milestones plus royalties on worldwide net sales of products.