Domain Therapeutics and Merck enter into an agreement for development of adenosine receptor antagonists in immuno-oncology
Domain Therapeutics announced a collaboration and licensing agreement with science and technology company Merck for the development of drugs specifically designed for use in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Domain Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company based in Strasbourg dedicated to the discovery and early development of small molecules targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), one of the most important classes of drug targets.
The company identifies and develops new drug candidates, allosteric modulators and biased ligands.
The agreement will involve close collaboration between Merck and Domain Therapeutics to develop and test new agents targeting key adenosine receptors.
Merck will support research activities and gain worldwide rights to Domain Therapeutics’ next generation of adenosine receptor inhibitors.
Under the terms of the agreement, Domain will be eligible for more than €240 million in milestones, as well as undisclosed royalties.
Pascal Neuville, CEO Domain Therapeutics, said: “With its growing portfolio of immuno-oncology agents, Merck is the ideal partner to develop our adenosine programs.
“As a strong collaborator with a leading investigational checkpoint inhibitor, we are confident that through Merck, our programs will progress rapidly.”
Adenosine has been identified as a key component in resistance mechanisms for many tumours targeted by immune check-point inhibitors.
While blocking certain adenosine receptors has been shown to increase the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors, antagonising other adenosine receptors has also been shown to slow tumour progression.
Laszlo Radvanyi is the Senior Vice President and Head of Research in immuno-oncology at the biopharma business of Merck.
"This new generation of adenosine receptor antagonists is an important addition to our immuno-oncology pipeline,” he said.
“We plan to explore the promise of adenosine receptor antagonists and develop novel compounds to potentially use in new combination immunotherapies for cancer.”