Affimed in Heidelberg (Germany) will fund and conduct a clinical trial to investigate the combination of Merck’s (MSD) anti-PD-1 therapy (Keytruda), with Affimed’s proprietary drug for the treatment of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma.
The phase Ib trial will focus on patients whose disease has relapsed or is refractory to chemotherapy, including treatment with the marketed antibody-drug-conjugate Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin).
To start sometime in the first half of 2016, the agreement is between Affimed and Merck (through a subsidiary), which will supply the Keytruda. There is also the potential for an expansion of the collaboration to include a subsequent Phase III clinical trial.
Keytruda blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands (PD-L1 and PD-L2), thereby activating T-lymphocytes, which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.
AFM13, on the other hand, is designed to treat CD30-positive malignancies including Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and T-cell lymphoma (TCL – one of the deadliest types of Cancer) and it is currently in Phase II studies in HL patients.