Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today it has signed three separate clinical collaboration agreements, through subsidiaries, with Amgen Inc., Incyte Corporation and Pfizer Inc. to evaluate novel combination regimens with MK-3475, Merck’s investigational anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. The financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
“Merck clinical scientists intend to explore the potential of our PD-1 inhibitor across a wide range of cancers, both as monotherapy and in combination,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “These new collaborations with Amgen, Incyte and Pfizer underscore our shared determination to evaluate treatment regimens with the potential to provide meaningful benefits to patients suffering from cancer.”
Planned investigations include:
- Pfizer and Merck will evaluate in Phase I/II clinical studies the safety and efficacy of MK-3475 in combination with Pfizer’s small molecule kinase inhibitor axitinib (INLYTA®) in patients with renal cell carcinoma, and separately MK-3475 plus PF-05082566 (PF-2566), an investigational immuno-oncology agent that targets the human 4-1BB receptor, in multiple cancer types.
- Incyte and Merck will collaborate on a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled Phase I/II study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a regimen combining MK-3475 with Incyte’s investigational immunotherapy agent, INCB24360, an indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO) inhibitor, in patients with previously treated metastatic and recurrent NSCLC, among other advanced or metastatic cancers.
- Amgen and Merck will evaluate MK-3475 in combination with Amgen’s investigational oncolytic immunotherapy talimogene laherparepvec in a Phase I/II study in patients with previously untreated advanced melanoma.
Separately, Merck announced it will start a new Phase I “signal finding” study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of MK-3475 monotherapy in 20 different PD-L1-positive solid tumor types that have not been studied previously (clinical trials identifier: NCT02054806).About MK-3475 Many tumors are able to evade the immune system through a mechanism that exploits the PD-1 inhibitory checkpoint protein. MK-3475 is an investigational, highly selective anti-PD-1 immunotherapy designed to restore the natural ability of the immune system to recognize and target cancer cells by selectively achieving dual ligand blockade (PD-L1 and PD-L2) of the PD-1 protein. By blocking PD-1, MK-3475 enables activation of the immune system’s T-cells that target cancer, essentially by releasing a brake on the immune system.