Merck and cCAM Biotherapeutics, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company, have officially signed an agreement to collaborate on the discovery and development of innovative cancer immunotherapies. The terms of the agreement stipulate the acquisition of cCAM under a Merck subsidiary, for an upfront payment worth $65 million in cash. cCAM shareholders will also be eligible to receive payments of up to $510 million upon reaching set development, regulatory and commercial milestones.
“We continue to strengthen our portfolio of immunotherapeutic candidates through strategic collaborations and acquisitions,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “The acquisition of cCAM supports our objective to advance the care of patients with cancer by stimulating tumor-directed immune responses.”
This new agreement gives Merck access to a number of experimental immunotherapy products, inclusive of cCAM’s main product candidate, CM-24, a monoclonal antibody that specifically targets protein CEACAM1 – currently undergoing Phase I testing as a potential treatment for advanced or recurring tumors, such as melanoma, NSCLC, bladder, gastric, colorectal, and ovarian cancers. Previous studies have shown CEACAM1 expression on tumor lymphocytes and upregulation. CM-24 has exhibited the potential to induce cytotoxic activity among tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes against tumor cells expressing CEACAM1. The agreement also states that cCAM Biotherapeutics, as a new Merck subsidiary, will retain the responsibility to develop CM-24 throughout the ongoing Phase I trial.
“Merck’s excellence and leadership in immuno-oncology provides a strong foundation for advancing CM-24, for the treatment of people with cancer,” said Pini Orbach, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, cCAM Biotherapeutics and Head of Pharma at Arkin Holdings. “This is a significant achievement for cCAM Biotherapeutics, as well as a vote of confidence in the Israeli innovative biotech industry as a whole.”
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In a new study entitled “T Cells Derived From Human Melanoma Draining Lymph Nodes Mediate Melanoma-specific Antitumor Responses In Vitro and In Vivo in Human Melanoma Xenograft Model” researcher’s at the UH Seidman Cancer Center established a protocol where they retrieved T cells from lymph nodes of melanoma patients and proceeded to their expansion and activation in vitro. The team observed that these cells have the potential to induce a strong immune response against melanoma, once reintroduced back into patients. A new clinical trial is already undergoing to validate these preliminary findings that may result into a new immunotherapy for melanoma. The study was published in the Journal of Immunotherapy.
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