Merck to Acquire Rigontec, RIG-I Therapeutics Pioneer, Advancing Leadership in Immuno-Oncology


September 6, 2017 5:30 am ET

Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and
Rigontec today announced that Merck will acquire Rigontec. Rigontec is a
pioneer in accessing the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway,
part of the innate immune system, as a novel and distinct approach in
cancer immunotherapy to induce both immediate and long-term anti-tumor
immunity. Rigontec’s lead candidate, RGT100, is currently in Phase I
development evaluating treatment in patients with various tumors. Under
the terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will make an
upfront cash payment of €115 million to Rigontec’s shareholders; based
on the attainment of certain clinical, development, regulatory and
commercial milestones, Merck may make additional contingent payments of
up to €349 million. The transaction is subject to certain closing

“Rigontec’s immuno-oncology approach of engaging the innate immune
system to safely eliminate cancer cells complements our strategy and our
current pipeline,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president of early-stage
development, clinical oncology, Merck Research Laboratories. “We are
eager to build upon Rigontec’s science as we continue our efforts in
bringing forward meaningful advances for patients with cancer.”

“Merck is a true pioneer in the immuno-oncology space and we are
thrilled that our technology will benefit from their experience and
leadership position,” said Christian Schetter, Ph.D., CEO of Rigontec.
“We are confident that our programs will be in the best hands and that
the team at Merck will continue the work we established with our
scientific founders and brought into the clinic within three years since
our foundation as a company.”

About Rigontec

Rigontec is the leader in RIG-I targeting therapeutics. Utilizing the
proprietary RIG-I agonist approach, the company harnesses one of the
most essential pathways in the innate immune system to pioneer a novel
immuno-oncology treatment approach. Rigontec’s proprietary agonists
specifically activate RIG-I, inducing both immediate and long-term
anti-tumor immunity and have proven substantial local and systemic tumor
regression in several relevant in vivo models. In addition to
malignant diseases, proprietary RNA molecules can be developed for the
treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases.

Rigontec was founded in 2014 as a spin-out of the University Bonn,
Germany, and has to date raised close to €30 million from experienced
life science investors including Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund,
Forbion Capital Partners, High-Tech Gründerfonds, MP Healthcare Venture
Management, NRW.BANK, Sunstone Capital and Wellington Partners Life

Merck’s Focus on Cancer

Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology
medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck, 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.

As part of our focus on cancer, Merck is committed to exploring the
potential of immuno-oncology with one of the fastest-growing development
programs in the industry. We are currently executing an expansive
research program that includes more than 550 clinical trials evaluating
our anti-PD-1 therapy across more than 30 tumor types. We also continue
to strengthen our immuno-oncology portfolio through strategic
acquisitions and are prioritizing the development of several promising
immunotherapeutic candidates with the potential to improve the treatment
of advanced cancers.

For more information about our oncology clinical trials, visit

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical
company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been
inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of
the world’s most challenging diseases. 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. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of
research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that
threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer,
cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease
and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information,

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“company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of
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Pamela Eisele, Merck
Kim Hamilton, Merck
Dr. Stephanie May, Rigontec
MacDougall Biomedical Communications
+49 175 5711562
Teri Loxam, Merck
Amy Klug, Merck
Dr. Christian Schetter, Rigontec
+49 151 466 75 978

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