EMD Serono, Inc., a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Mersana Therapeutics, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., U.S., announced today an agreement to collaboratively develop next-generation antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). ADCs are composed of an antibody linked to cytotoxic drugs, whereby the antibody part specifically targets and delivers the cytotoxic drug to cancer cells which could lead to higher drug levels at the tumor site.
Mersana and EMD Serono will leverage Mersana’s Fleximer@ technology to generate ADCs for multiple undisclosed targets. Both parties have agreed to test a variety of ADCs by utilizing Mersana’s platform technologies, and several cytotoxic agents as conjugates. This agreement further underlines EMD Serono’s approach to employ a collaborative research and development model, creating strategic partnerships to drive innovation, being consciously agnostic of the source of potential novel assets, and technologies.
“This new collaboration provides an exciting opportunity to expand our oncology drug discovery and development portfolio into the evolving ADC space,” said Dr. Andree Blaukat, head of the Translational Innovation Platform Oncology at EMD Serono. “At EMD Serono, we have a long- standing commitment to improving oncology care, and we aim to deliver the best benefit possible to patients. Partnering with Mersana allows us to incorporate cutting-edge research and technical excellence to enrich our pipeline.” “We look forward to working with EMD Serono to apply our proprietary platform technologies to rapidly develop and demonstrate preclinical proof-of-concept of several customized, novel Fleximer-ADC candidates,” said Timothy B. Lowinger, Ph.D., Mersana’s Chief Scientific Officer.
Under the agreement, EMD Serono will provide monoclonal antibodies to Mersana which will generate the Fleximer-ADCs and conduct drug discovery and preclinical development activities. EMD Serono will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization of any products under an exclusive license from Mersana. In addition to an upfront payment, Mersana is eligible to receive milestones plus royalties on worldwide net sales of products. Further financial details are not being disclosed.