Kelun-Biotech announces joint license agreement with MSD for drug targeting solid tumors

circulating tumor cells, cancer, clinical trials

Kelun-Biotech and MSD (Merck & Co.) have announced they are entering in a joint license agreement to develop a drug to treat solid tumors.

The announcement was made yesterday (July 27) for the partnership to create the investigational antibody drug conjugate (ADC).

Under the terms of the agreement, Kelun-Biotech, a clinical-stage biotech company focused on biologic and small molecule discovery and development has granted pharmaceutical company MSD, exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize an investigational ADC.

Early clinical development

The two companies will work together on the early clinical development of the investigational ADC. In return, Kelun-Biotech will receive an upfront payment of $35 million (€34.3 million)  and is eligible to receive future development, approval and commercial milestone payments totaling up to $901 million (€883 million) plus tiered royalties on net sales.

Junyou Ge, chief executive officer of Kelun-Biotech said: “These collaborations with MSD underscore the sophistication and capabilities of Kelun-Biotech’s ADC platform and the potential of our ADC therapeutics. Incorporating MSD’s deep and broad global expertise with Kelun-Biotech’s innovation power has the potential to generate great development synergy, significantly accelerating the development and commercialization of the collaboration programs. These collaborations will also strengthen our strategic position in building a global, innovative, fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company.”

This latest transaction follows MSD’s decision earlier this year to exercise an option for worldwide rights, except for the Greater China region (including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), to SKB-264, an investigational TROP2 targeting ADC.

Breast cancer

SKB-264 is currently being evaluated in a phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer and in phase 2 trials for non-small cell lung cancer and advanced solid tumors. Kelun-Biotech and MSD will collaborate on certain early clinical development plans, including evaluating the potential of SKB-264 as a monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) for advanced solid tumors.

Eric Rubin, senior vice president of oncology early development at MSD said: “The collaboration with Kelun-Biotech strengthens and diversifies MSD’s oncology pipeline as we seek to further the potential of ADCs to provide more treatment options and improve outcomes for people with cancer. We look forward to advancing this collaboration with the Kelun-Biotech team.”

Kelun Biotech was established in 2016 and is a holding subsidiary of Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, engaged in biologic therapeutics as well as small molecule discovery and development. The company’s current pipeline includes 55 therapeutic programs for the treatment of cancers, autoimmune conditions, infectious diseases, and metabolic syndromes. development.

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