Merck and SignalChem to investigate combination tumour treatment

The companies will evaluate SignalChem’s SLC-391 in combination with Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in the treatment of Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

SignalChem Lifesciences has announced a collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, to evaluate the combination of SLC-391, a selective AXL inhibitor developed by SignalChem, with Keytrude (pembrolizumab), Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

AXL, a member of the TAM family protein tyrosine kinases (Tyro3, AXL and Mer), plays a role in cell survival, angiogenesis, metastasis and therapeutic resistance. SLC-391 is a clinical stage small molecule AXL inhibitor with high potency and selectivity, SignalChem says. It reportedly disrupts cell division, inhibiting tumour growth and causing cancer cells to die.

A clinical investigation has been initiated to evaluate SLC-391 in combination with Keytruda in the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC.

SignalChem will conduct the study in multiple cancer centres in the US and Canada to evaluate the clinical outcome of combining SLC-391 and Keytruda.

The Skylite trial is a multi-centre, single arm, open-label, Phase 2 Study of SLC-391 in combination with Keytruda in subjects with NSCLC. Subjects will receive daily doses of SLC-391 orally for 21-day cycles in combination with the commercially approved dose and schedule of Keytruda. The trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the combination therapy, and includes the exploration of biomarkers relating to AXL signalling that may correlate with anti-tumour activity.

"We welcome the collaboration with Merck. We consider Merck’s clinical development expertise to be valuable and believe this relationship may contribute to the development of SLC-391 for the treatment of patients with advanced stage lung cancer. These patients experience aggressive tumors that are often difficult to treat. We hope this collaboration with Merck will lead to a new approach that addresses this important unmet need," said Jun Yan, President, SignalChem Lifesciences.

"We look forward to partnering with Merck as we aim to deliver new cancer treatments and advance SLC’s drug discovery platform. We at SLC are working hard to identify new anti-tumor, anti-metastatic, and anti-chemo-resistance therapies that provide meaningful alternatives to existing treatments."

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