UTRECHT, The Netherlands and EDINBURGH, UK, Nov. 09, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Merus N.V. (NASDAQ:MRUS), a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company developing innovative bispecific antibody therapeutics, announced today that it has been awarded a €1.5 million EUREKA Eurostars grant ("iMOD-ReACT") with Aquila BioMedical, Ltd. to jointly develop novel immunological assays supporting the selection of potent bispecific antibodies that positively modulate tumor immunity with superior potency and lower toxicity compared to existing drugs. In the iMOD-ReACT project Aquila BioMedical has agreed to apply its extensive experience in the development of cellular assays to develop novel in vitro assays to screen immunomodulatory therapeutic agents, focusing in particular on the 'exhausted' T cell phenotype that is a feature of tumor immunity. Merus has agreed to apply its proprietary Biclonics® technology to screen large panels of bispecific antibodies against combinations of immunomodulatory targets with Aquila using the novel T cell assays to support the rational selection of lead bispecific antibody candidates for further development to treat cancer. "We believe a clinically successful Biclonics® that effectively modulates tumor immunity has the potential to significantly improve the treatment paradigm in lung cancer and other solid tumor indications," said Mark Throsby, Chief Scientific Officer of Merus. "By leveraging Aquila's expertise to develop more representative T-cell based drug screening assays, we expect to be able to identify promising candidates for further development with greater confidence. We thank the EUREKA and EU member countries for awarding us this Eurostars grant." "We have been impressed with Merus' progress at developing novel bispecific antibodies that have the potential to substantially improve cancer treatments," said Professor Stephen Anderton, Chief Scientific Officer of Aquila BioMedical. "We believe Merus' Biclonics® technology platform, coupled with our extensive experience in the development of T cell assays, could result in the rapid validation of promising antibodies for clinical evaluation. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration as we jointly seek to develop safe and effective new treatments for cancer patients."