Amgen And Merck Announce Cancer Immunotherapy Partnership

Amgen And Merck Announce Cancer Immunotherapy Partnership

Amgen and Merck have announced two cancer immunotherapy collaborations that will focus on diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and advanced solid tumors, such as non-small cell lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.

The first cancer immunotherapy partnership will include a Phase 1b/3 study of the efficacy and safety of the treatment of DLBCL patients with the combination of BLINCYTO (blinatumomab), Amgen’s bispecific antibody, and KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), Merck’s anti-PD-1 humanized monoclonal antibody. BLINCYTO, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Philadelphia chromosome-negative relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), is a CD19-directed CD3 T cell engager (BiTE) antibody that targets both CD19 expressed on the surface of B cells and CD3 expressed on the surface of T cells. Its immune system modulatory effect helps immune system cells to recognize and target malignant cells, by placing T cells within reach of the targeted tumor cell, leading to its destruction. KEYTRUDA is indicated in the U.S, for the treatment of  patients with metastatic PD-L1- expressing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and unresectable or metastatic melanoma, due to its ability to activate T cells through the blocking of interaction between PD-1 and its ligands. The study will be a multicenter and randomized clinical trial.

The second immunotherapy collaboration will support a Phase 1/2 study evaluating the efficacy and safety of therapy of patients with select advanced solid tumors (non-small cell lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancers) with AMG 820, Amgen’s fully human antagonistic IgG2 monoclonal antibody that targets the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R), decreasing tumor-associated macrophage (TAM) function, in combination with KEYTRUDA.

Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen commented  in a press release “We are pleased to enter these collaborations with Merck that build upon our growing cancer immunotherapy portfolio. We look forward to learning more about potential new combination treatment options for BLINCYTO and AMG 820 in disease areas where there remains a high unmet need.”

“The combination of therapies is an important approach for overcoming the ever-changing and complex nature of many cancers. The combination of these immunotherapies may hold potential for patients with cancer and we look forward to partnering with Amgen to advance these trials with the hope of bringing forward new treatment combinations for patients with various types of cancer,” added Dr Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories.

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