Merck and Pfizer in Lung Pact With Debiopharm

25.10.2016 -

Major drugmakers Merck KGaA of Germany and Pfizer of the US are collaborating with Debiopharm International, a drug developer based in Lausanne, Switzerland to study the potential of combining their drugs to treat lung cancer. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The companies plan to test a combination of Debio 1143, an oral, small molecule neutralizer of Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) proteins, and Avelumab, an investigational fully human monoclonal antibody against programmed death-ligand 1 (anti-PD–L1), in patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Swiss-based Debiopharm will be responsible for conducting the Phase 1/1b clinical trial.

“We are hopeful that the immunosensitizing effect of our compound in combination with Avelumab may translate into a potentially better treatment outcome for patients suffering from this major debilitating disease,” said Chris Freitag, vice president of clinical research & development at Debiopharm International. Debio 1143 is currently in Phase 2 development for head & neck and ovarian cancer while Avelumab is under clinical investigation across a broad range of tumors. Merck and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance in November 2014 to develop and co-commercialize Avelumab.

“Inhibition of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway has shown promising activity in patients with advanced NSCLC,” said Alise Reicin, head of Merck’s biopharma global clinical development. Globally, lung cancer kills more men and women than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 80-85% of cases.