Merck Acquires OncoEthix, a Privately Held Oncology Company Developing Novel BET Inhibitors for Hematological and Solid Cancers
December 18, 2014 7:30 am ET
Acquisition Expands Merck’s Oncology Portfolio with Novel Oral BET Inhibitor, OTX015
Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
announced today that it has acquired, through a subsidiary, OncoEthix, a
Swiss-based privately held biotechnology company specializing in
oncology drug development. Through the acquisition, Merck has gained an
investigational, novel oral BET (bromodomain) inhibitor, OTX015, which
is currently in Phase 1b studies for the treatment of hematological
malignancies and advanced solid tumors.
“Oncology is a priority area of focus for Merck and the acquisition of
OncoEthix supports our strategy to prioritize the development of
innovative molecules with the potential to improve the treatment of
advanced cancers,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president, global
clinical development, Merck Research Laboratories. “The potential
first-in-class oral BET inhibitor, OTX015, has demonstrated early
promising activity in hematological cancers and strategically
complements our broad immuno-oncology development program.”
“We are delighted that OTX015 will now be in the hands of Merck, a
company with a successful track record of developing cutting-edge
therapies,” said Bertrand Damour, chief executive officer, OncoEthix.
“The acquisition underlines the promise that OTX015 has shown in the
treatment of hematological malignancies, and the potential it has for
the treatment of advanced solid tumors. We are confident that our
transaction with Merck best positions OTX015 to be developed to its full
potential in areas of high unmet medical need.”
BET proteins are considered potential therapeutic targets in cancer, as
they play a pivotal role in regulating the transcription of key
regulators of cancer cell growth and survival, including c-Myc.
Interim data from ongoing Phase I clinical studies of OTX015 have
demonstrated meaningful clinical activity in patients with hematological
malignancies. Interim data were recently presented at the American
Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in April 2014. An
international, open-label Phase 1 study evaluating OTX015 in five
different solid tumors was initiated in November 2014.
Financial terms of the acquisition include an upfront payment of up to
$110 million to OncoEthix. Additional milestone payments of up to $265
million are contingent upon certain clinical and regulatory events being
Founded in 2009, OncoEthix is a Swiss-based privately held biotechnology
company aiming to develop a small portfolio of oncology drug candidates.
The Company’s lead product, OTX015, is an investigational orally
administered synthetic small molecule targeted to BET bromodomain
proteins 2/3/4. OTX015 was in-licensed from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma
Corporation in March 2012 following completion of Phase I clinical
studies in healthy volunteers.
OncoEthix has raised a total of US$30 million in venture capital to
date: investors include Index Ventures, SV Life Sciences, Endeavour
Vision and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners. For more
information please see: www.oncoethix.com.
Merck’s Focus on Cancer
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helping people fight cancer is our passion, supporting accessibility to
our cancer medicines is our commitment, and pursuing research in
immuno-oncology and other areas of breakthrough science is our focus to
potentially bring new hope to people with cancer. For more information
about our oncology clinical trials, visit www.merck.com/clinicaltrials.
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Pamela Eisele, 267-305-3558
Claire Mulhearn, 908-236-1118
Joseph Romanelli, 908-740-1986
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