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Merck Serono and Mersana to develop antibody-drug conjugates

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Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck and Mersana Therapeutics have signed an agreement to collaboratively develop next-generation antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). ADCs are composed of an antibody linked to cytotoxic drugs, whereby the antibody part specifically targets and delivers the cytotoxic drug to cancer cells which could lead to higher drug levels at the tumour site. Mersana and Merck Serono will leverage Mersana’s Fleximer technology to generate ADCs for multiple undisclosed targets. Both parties have agreed to test a variety of ADCs by utilising Mersana’s platform technologies and several cytotoxic agents as conjugates. This agreement further underlines Merck Serono’s approach to employ a collaborative research and development model, creating strategic partnerships to drive innovation, being consciously agnostic of the source of potential novel assets, and technologies. “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 the Translational Innovation Platform Oncology at Merck Serono.

“We look forward to working with Merck Serono to apply our proprietary platform technologies to rapidly develop and demonstrate preclinical proof-of-concept of several customised, novel Fleximer-ADC candidates,” said Timothy B Lowinger, Chief Scientific Officer, Mersana.

Under the agreement, Merck Serono will provide monoclonal antibodies to Mersana, which will generate the Fleximer-ADCs and conduct drug discovery and preclinical development activities. Merck Serono 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.

EP News BureauMumbai

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