News Feature | November 11, 2014

Merck And BIND To Develop Nanomeds For Cancer

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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Clinical stage nanomedicine platform company BIND Therapeutics announced that it has signed a joint R&D agreement with Merck to develop novel nanomedicines for oncology.

According to the terms of the agreement, BIND will use its Medicinal Nanoengineering proprietary platform to build targeted Accurins that will be based on investigational KSP and PLK1 inhibitors selected from Merck’s preclinical oncology portfolio. The partnership could potentially include additional Merck compounds in the future. BIND will take the lead in funding and conducting R&D activities to move Accurin candidates through first-in-human trials. Merck and BIND will then have alternate options to choose whether or not to develop and market the Accurin products. If BIND chooses to pursue further development, Merck will be eligible to receive royalty payments once the products reach the market. However, if Merck assumes responsibility for further development, it will pay BIND a fee based on R&D expenses with additional royalty payments on future sales. No further financial terms of the agreement were disclosed by either company.

Accurins are nanoparticles that are used to encapsulate anticancer drugs in a biodegradable polymer shell, which carries the drug to the targeted cancer cells and can keep healthy cells safe. The first two compounds from Merck will include a kinesin spindle protein (KSP) inhibitor and a polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitor, which are both regulators of cell mitosis and which play a part in enabling cancer cells to multiply. KSP and PLK1 pathways are considered difficult to target using traditional agents due to therapeutic index limitations.

Scott Minick, CEO of BIND Therapeutics, said, “This is an exciting and unique collaboration for BIND as it provides us with novel proprietary payloads to develop as Accurin product candidates for our internal pipeline.” BIND recently saw a previous partnership with Amgen fizzle out in July, which caused its shares to drop in value in September. The new deal with Merck validates its technology and position in the nanomedicine field, the company said.

Dr. Eric Rubin, VP of clinical oncology at Merck Research Laboratories, said, “We are pleased to collaborate with BIND Therapeutics to expand Merck's active oncology discovery programs. …We look forward to combining compounds from our oncology portfolio with BIND's nanomedicine technology platform.”