Merck announces research collaboration with Domain Therapeutics in immuno-oncology

MerckMerck, a leading science and technology company, today announced it has entered into a collaboration and licensing agreement with Domain Therapeutics, Strasbourg, France, to explore the potential of adenosine inhibition in the development of novel immuno-oncology agents. This collaboration strengthens the combination strategy in immuno-oncology, and underscores Merck's science-driven approach to discovering and developing novel compounds through both internal capabilities and external collaborations.

"This new generation of adenosine receptor antagonists are an important addition to our immuno-oncology pipeline," said Laszlo Radvanyi, Senior Vice President, Head of Research in Immuno-Oncology at the biopharma business of Merck. "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.

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

About Merck
Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2015, Merck generated sales of € 12.85 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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