Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Merck, Domain Therapeutics partner to co-develop adenosine receptor antagonists

Published 24 January 2017

Merck has entered into a collaboration and licensing agreement with French based Domain Therapeutics to explore the potential of adenosine inhibition in the development of novel immuno-oncology agents.

This collaboration strengthens our combination strategy in immuno-oncology, and underscores Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany's science-driven approach to discovering and developing novel compounds through both internal capabilities and external collaborations.

Merck senior vice president, head of research in Immuno-Oncology at the biopharma business, Laszlo Radvanyi said: "This new generation of adenosine receptor antagonists are an important addition to our immuno-oncology pipeline.

"We plan to explore the promise of adenosine receptor antagonists and develop novel compounds to potentially use in new combination immunotherapies for cancer."

Adenosine receptor antagonists are small molecules thought to slow tumor progression and improve the response to combination immunotherapies by inhibiting adenosine – a compound generated by cancer cells that inhibits anti-tumor responses by binding to T cells.

The agreement will involve a close collaboration between Merck and Domain Therapeutics to develop and test new agents targeting key adenosine receptors. Merck will support research activities and gain worldwide rights to Domain Therapeutics' next generation of adenosine receptor inhibitors.

Domain Therapeutics CEO Pascal Neuville said: "With its growing portfolio of immuno-oncology agents, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is the ideal partner to develop our adenosine programs.

"As a strong collaborator with a leading investigational checkpoint inhibitor, we are confident that through Merck, our programs will progress rapidly."

Merck is committed to exploring an array of targets, and taking creative scientific approaches to developing novel therapies for hard-to-treat cancers. The strength of Merck’s promising oncology development program and growing presence in the immunotherapy space demonstrates how the company is re-imagining the way cancer care is delivered.

Source: Company Press Release