Intrexon Corporation , a pioneer in synthetic biology, and Merck Serono, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical company of Merck KGaA, Germany, established a collaborative licensing agreement for the development and commercialization of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy. This partnership will allow the generation of a CAR-T platform to originate various drug candidates while contributing ro the science-focused strategy of Merck Serono to develop pioneering treatments on the natural ability of the immune system to fight cancer.
Belen Garijo, President and CEO of Merck Serono said in the news release that this collaboration is based on Merck Serono’s focus to innovate and increase the R&D technology portfolio on immuno-oncology. Importantly, it will reinforce the company’s commitment to develop treatments with the potential to drastically change cancer therapy.
CAR-T cells are genetically engineered T-cells with synthetic receptors that recognize a specific antigen expressed on cancer cells. When these cells bind to a specific target they induce an immune response that ultimately kills tumor cells.
The collaboration will take advantage of Intrexon’s cellular engineering techniques and RheoSwitch platform to develop revolutionary products with the capacity to boost the immune system and overcome current challenges of CAR-T therapy. Merck Serono will have exclusive access to technologies, which will enable T-cell production with optimal and inducible gene expression, reinforced by the recent license agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Additionally, Intrexon will have the opportunity to investigate targets independently of Merck, giving Merck optional rights during clinical development.
Randal J. Kirk, Chairman and CEO of Intrexon said that “this is the perfect partnership for CAR-T because of its long-term aspect, amazing character, global wide and perspective of leadership in immuno-oncology.” Kirk further added that “Intrexon is very excited with this collaboration and the prospective of helping patients by establishing a pioneering franchise in this potential research field.”