Agenus announced that it has entered into a license agreement and collaboration with Merck through a subsidiary for the development of novel checkpoint antibody-based cancer immunotherapies.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Agenus will discover and optimize fully human antibodies against two Merck checkpoint targets using the 4-Antibody Retrocyte Display platform. None of the two targets were revealed at the time of the press release. Merck will be responsible for the clinical development and commercialization of candidates produced during the collaboration.
Bob Stein, CSO of Agenus, said, “We are delighted to be working with Merck, who is a leader in the rapidly developing immuno-oncology space. We believe our Retrocyte Display technology has significant advantages for creation of high quality antibody development candidates. This collaboration broadens our efforts in immuno-oncology beyond our previously disclosed checkpoint programs with a world-class research and development partner.”
4-Antibody AG, a private biopharma company based in Europe, was acquired by Agenus in February this year. 4-Antibody assets include the Retrocyte display technology platform for discovery and optimization of fully human antibodies against a range of molecular targets. Research is ongoing to discover and develop fully human monoclonal antibodies that bind to key checkpoint proteins and activate or block their activities as part of cancer therapy.
Dr. Eric Rubin, VP of clinical oncology at Merck Research Laboratories, said, “This collaboration with Agenus complements our active immuno-oncology discovery programs. We look forward to working to advance these programs with the potential to address the unmet medical needs of people with cancer.”
Agenus is eligible to receive approximately $100 million in potential payments based on the completion of certain clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones for the two candidates from Merck. Agenus also stands to receive royalties from product sales across the globe.