Merck Acquires IOmet Pharma and Expands Immuno-Oncology Development Program


January 11, 2016 4:08 pm ET

Acquisition Grows Merck’s Oncology Pre-Clinical Pipeline with Novel IDO1 and TDO Inhibitors

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
announced today that it has acquired IOmet, a privately-held UK-based
drug discovery company focused on the development of innovative
medicines for the treatment of cancer, with a particular emphasis on the
fields of cancer immunotherapy and cancer metabolism. Under terms of the
agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire IOmet, including
its comprehensive pre-clinical pipeline of IDO
(indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1), TDO (tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase), and
dual-acting IDO/TDO inhibitors. Based on the transaction, IOmet will
become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck.

“By harnessing the power of the immune system, we are already witnessing
great advancements in the treatment of cancer,” said Eric Rubin, M.D.,
vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage
development, Merck Research Laboratories. “The acquisition of IOmet is a
further example of Merck’s commitment to fully realizing the potential
of this rapidly evolving field through our existing innovative portfolio
as well as the acquisition of promising immunotherapeutic candidates.”

“Merck’s leadership in immuno-oncology and expertise in development
combined with the potential of our IDO1 and TDO programs creates
significant opportunity for us to advance the treatment of cancer,” said
Alan Wise, Ph.D., CEO, IOmet. “As a company we have benefited from
proximity to world class life sciences research including the University
of Dundee, an early stage collaborator with us on the IDO1 and TDO
programs and from supportive shareholders including the Scottish
Investment Bank. We now look forward to joining Merck and feel that this
acquisition underscores the shared commitment we have to accelerating
our programs to bring solutions to people who need them most.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

About IDO1 and TDO Inhibition

IDO1 and TDO, the rate-limiting enzymes in the pathway that metabolizes
the essential amino acid tryptophan, have emerged as key targets for the
pharmaceutical industry in the cancer immunotherapy field.
Overexpression of these enzymes has been detected in a variety of
cancers – including glioma, melanoma, lung, ovarian, and colorectal
cancers – and is associated with poor prognosis and survival. IDO1 and
TDO overexpression leads to tryptophan depletion and high tumor levels
of the breakdown product, kynurenine. This elevated
kynurenine/tryptophan (K/T) ratio suppresses the body’s immune response
to cancer, thus facilitating tumor progression and metastasis. Extensive
preclinical evidence, and emerging clinical data, suggests that
inhibition of IDO1 and/or TDO may synergize with, and help overcome
resistance to, existing clinical cancer therapies, in particular other
immunotherapy-based treatments.

Data involving IOmet Pharma’s novel, pre-clinical IDO1, TDO and IDO1/TDO
Dual Inhibitor programs were presented at the Society for Immunotherapy
of Cancer Annual Meeting in November 2015.

About IOmet Pharma

IOmet Pharma Ltd is a privately-held drug discovery company based in
Edinburgh, UK. Founded in 2008, IOmet is focused on the development of
innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer, with particular
emphasis on the fields of cancer immunotherapy and cancer metabolism.
IOmet has a team with a proven track record of success in bringing small
molecules from discovery phase to the clinic. For more information,
please visit

About Scottish Investment Bank

Investment Bank
 (SIB) is the investment arm of Scotland’s main
economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, operating
Scotland-wide in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It
manages a suite of co- investment funds including the Scottish
Co-investment Fund
and the Scottish
Venture Fund
, which are partly funded by the European Regional
Development Fund (ERDF). SIB also manages the Renewable
Energy Investment Fund
and the Scottish
Recycling Fund
. SIB is the cornerstone investor in the
privately-managed Scottish Loan Fund, managed by Maven Capital Partners
and an investor in Epidarex Capital’s life sciences fund. Our investment
funds support Scotland’s SME funding market to ensure businesses with
growth and export potential have adequate access to growth capital. We
also provide a team of financial
specialists to help companies prepare for new investment
and access appropriate finance.

Merck’s Focus on Cancer

Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology
medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck Oncology,
helping people fight cancer is our passion and supporting accessibility
to our cancer medicines is our commitment. Our focus is on pursuing
research in immuno-oncology and we are accelerating every step in the
journey – from lab to clinic – to potentially bring new hope to people
with cancer. For more information about our oncology clinical trials,

About Merck

Today’s Merck is a global health care leader working to help the world
be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada.
Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and
animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than
140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also
demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through
far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information,
visit and
connect with us on TwitterFacebookYouTube and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the
“company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of
the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs
and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to
significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with
respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the
necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be
commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or
risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially
from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry
conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest
rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of
pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the
United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost
containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained
by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development,
including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to
accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties
or delays; financial instability of international economies and
sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents
and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to
litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any
forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information,
future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results
to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking
statements can be found in the company’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K
and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (

Pamela Eisele, 267-305-3558
Courtney Ronaldo, 908-236-1108
Teri Loxam, 908-740-1986
Justin Holko, 908-740-1879

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