The Gustave Roussy Institute, one of Europe’s largest comprehensive cancer research, teaching, and treatment centers, entered into a strategic collaboration with Dutch antibody therapeutics company Merus to jointly develop bispecific antibodies for oncology applications.
The agreement between the two organizations involves plans to collaborate on design and conduct of several studies involving Merus “Biclonics,” or therapeutic human bispecific antibody candidates, specifically Merus’ MCLA-128, a HER2xHER3 bispecific antibody candidate currently in Phase I/II clinical trials in Europe. The product is intended to treat patients with HER2-expressing solid tumors. Its MCLA-117 CLEC12AxCD3 bispecific antibody candidate for patients with acute myeloid leukemia is designed to activate T cells.
“We are excited to expand our opportunities for collaboration in the development of bispecific antibodies for immuno-oncology,” said Prof. Jean-Charles Soria, head of the drug development department (DITEP) at Gustave Roussy. “We believe alliances such as this one with Merus will allow us to accelerate the development of promising, innovative cancer therapies for the patients who need them.”
“Our alliance with Merus illustrates our strategic commitment to collaborate with biotech companies developing innovative therapeutic antibodies and biotechnological platforms in the field of precision medicine and immunotherapy,” said Prof. Alexander Eggermont, general director of Gustave Roussy.
Ton Logtenberg, Ph.D., Merus’ CEO, added, “Gustave Roussy’s outstanding preclinical and clinical oncology teams, coupled with Merus’ bispecific antibody pipeline, create a powerful research platform capable of identifying important advancements in the area of immuno-oncology.”
In August of 2015, Merus entered into an agreement worth $80.5 million with various investors, including Sofinnova Vantures and Novo, with RA Capital Healthcare Fund, Rock Springs capital, and Tekla Capital for the sale of Series C preferred shares, and consummated its first tranche under that agreement. Merus also counts Novartis Venture Fund, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Pfizer Venture Investments, Bay City Capital, LSP Sciences Partners and Aglaia Oncology as investors. Merus currently has additional Bioclonics designed to bind to immunomodulatory molecules PD-1 and PD-L1 in preclinical development.