Genexine (KOSDAQ:095700), a clinical stage biotechnology company developing innovative biologics, today announced that it has entered into a clinical research collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Kenilworth, NJ, USA (known as MSD outside the US and Canada), for the assessment of Genexine's GX-188E, HPV therapeutic DNA vaccine, in combination with MSD's anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), for the treatment of patients with HPV-induced cancers. Under the terms of the agreement between Genexine and MSD, through a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, Genexine will conduct a Phase 1b/2a clinical trial to access safety and efficacy of the combination therapy, and MSD will provide clinical supplies of Keytruda and offer support to the study. The agreement also includes provision for potential expansion to include Phase III registration studies in the same indication. Additional details were not disclosed. Immuno-oncology is a rapidly evolving field of medicine designed to improve the ability of a patient's immune system to detect and destroy tumors. The purpose of the study is to investigate which combination modalities of treatment will work best in patients with advanced HPV-induced cervical cancer. An objective response rate (ORR) of 12.5% was observed in a Keytruda clinical trial in patients with advanced cervical squamous cell cancer. Genexine expects that Keytruda is well suited to complement its HPV therapeutic DNA vaccine and that the combination with GX-188E can increase those response rates. Gleaning from the trial in CIN, the Phase 1b/2a cancer study is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2017 with plans to enroll up to 40 patients. GX-188E induces T cells specific to E6/E7 protein originated from HPV type 16 and 18 and preclinical results for the combination therapy show the potential that the induced disease-specific T cells will work synergistically with anti-PD1 Ab. The combination trial with Keytruda and GX-188E will test to replicate animal POC in human to increase T cell specific immunotherapy.