F-star expands its relationship with Merck to develop five bispecific immuno-oncology antibodies in a new strategic collaboration
F-star and Merck are collaborating to develop bispecific antibodies
F-star, a biopharmaceutical company, is to start a new project with Merck, a science and technology company, to develop and commercialise five bispecific immuno-oncology antibodies (mAb2).
Under the agreement and upon delivery of pre-defined data packages, Merck has the option to acquire five of F-star’s bispecific programmes.
This option includes exclusive development and commercialisation rights to F-star’s preclinical lead asset FS118, which is designed to block Lymphocyte-Activation Gene 3 (LAG-3) and Programmed Death-Ligand 1 (PD-L1), two pathways commonly used by cancer cells to evade the immune system.
In a preclinical model, F-star has demonstrated FS118 could improve efficacy compared to monotherapy combinations, which supports the potential to initiate a clinical development programme.1
In addition to FS118, F-star has granted Merck exclusive development and commercial rights to four novel bispecific antibodies, targeting specific pathways to augment the anti-tumour immune response.
In return, Merck will pay up to €115 million in upfront research & development (R&D) funding and milestone payments in the first two years, and make further payments upon exercising its option, based on milestones.
John Haurum, CEO of F-star, said: “This immuno-oncology collaboration expands our strong relationship with Merck and is a further validation of the potential of F-star’s bispecific antibody platform. Our vision is to transform the treatment of cancer. This is the objective of partnering our lead asset FS118 and other next-generation immuno-oncology compounds with Merck.”