Mersana Therapeutics and a subsidiary of Merck have entered a research collaboration to discover novel Immunosynthen antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) directed against up to two targets.
Under the terms of the agreement, Mersana will develop novel ADC product candidates against up to two targets utilising its Immunosynthen platform to conjugate proprietary antibodies from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Immunosynthen is designed to generate systemically administered ADCs that locally activate STING signaling in both tumour-resident immune cells and in antigen-expressing tumour cells.
Merck KGaA will be solely responsible for in vitro and in vivo characterisation, other preclinical work, and all clinical development and potential commercialisation activities relating to any resulting product candidates.
Mersana will receive an upfront payment of $30 million. Mersana is also eligible to receive reimbursement of certain costs, up to $800 million in potential regulatory, development and commercial milestone payments.
Paul Lyne, Head of Research Unit, Oncology, Merck, commented: “An approach that can directly target the tumour microenvironment with an immunomodulatory ADC has the potential to bring the benefits of this immunotherapy to a broader group of patients. This collaboration with Mersana to design novel immunostimulatory ADCs that can harness the potential of the STING pathway is an ideal complement to our innovation in this area.”