Merck KGaA, a leading science and technology company, announced a development agreement for investigational molecule abituzumab with SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group (SFJ), a US-based company focused on increasing R&D output and productivity through innovative models.
Merck has completed Phase II development of abituzumab in combination with Erbitux® and chemotherapy in a second line all-comer patient population with KRAS wild-type mCRC. In this Phase II study, a subgroup of patients with overexpression of integrin αvβ6 was identified as potentially benefiting from this treatment. With the evolving understanding of the relationship between mCRC tumor location and treatment outcomes in recent years, SFJ will pursue the combination of abituzumab, Erbitux and chemotherapy in a first-line setting in high ανβ6-expressing patients who have RAS wild‑type left‑sided mCRC.
In a novel innovation model recently emerging in the biopharma industry, SFJ – one of the pioneers of such collaborations – will finance and also be responsible for Phase II/III development of abituzumab.
The agreement reflects Merck’s strategic approach to collaborations, identifying those opportunities that can progress the company’s highly promising clinical stage assets through novel innovation models. Both Merck and SFJ have agreed not to disclose the terms of the deal.