Merck KGaA and MorphoSys in Joint Antibody R&D

13.06.2014 -

Germany's Merck and compatriot biotech firm MorphoSys have agreed to cooperate on discovering and developing therapeutic antibodies against undisclosed immune checkpoints, that is developing therapies that modulate the immune system's natural ability to fight tumors.

MorphoSys, a leader in fully human antibody technologies, will apply its proprietary Ylanthia antibody phage library and technology platform to identify antibodies against the targets of interest. Merck Serono with its capabilities in immuno-oncology and clinical development will be fully responsible for execution of development from Phase I onward.

"Combining Merck Serono's extensive expertise in immuno-oncology with MorphoSys' next-generation antibody technology provides us with an exciting opportunity to rapidly generate novel therapies with a clear potential to benefit cancer patients," said Helen Sabzevari, senior vice president of immuno-incology at Merck Serono.

MorphoSys CEO Simon Moroney said his company believes its Ylanthia technology has the potential to provide "truly differentiated antibodies against the targets that will be the subject of the collaboration."

As part of the agreement, MorphoSys will co-fund R&D costs with the option to opt out at predefined stages. The biotech firm will be eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments as well as tiered royalties on product sales reflecting the extent of its co-funding. Merck Serono will have sole responsibility for commercializing any resulting products.