Merck and DNAtrix Announce Phase 2 Immuno-Oncology Collaboration in Patients with Aggressive Form of Brain Cancer

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The FINANCIAL — Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and DNAtrix on October 1 announced they have entered into an oncology clinical study collaboration to evaluate the efficacy and safety of DNX-2401, DNAtrix’s oncolytic immunotherapy, in combination with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in a Phase 2, multi-centered study of patients with recurrent glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer for which there is no cure.

DNX-2401 is a conditionally replicative oncolytic adenovirus designed to specifically target cells defective in the Retinoblastoma (Rb) pathway, which is present in many cancers. Several DNX-2401 clinical studies have demonstrated a favorable safety profile and strong tumor-killing potential in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1) and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2. KEYTRUDA is currently approved in the United States for certain types of advanced metastatic melanoma, according to Merck.

“We are excited to enter into this important collaboration with Merck as we investigate the potential anti-tumor effect that combining our two immunotherapies – DNX-2401 and KEYTRUDA – may offer patients with this aggressive disease,” said Frank Tufaro, Ph.D., chief executive officer of DNAtrix.

“The collaboration with DNAtrix further strengthens our efforts to progress the field of immuno-oncology and identify potential combinations that will significantly advance the care of people with cancers for which there have been few advancements,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to studying the potential synergistic effects that combining DNX-2401 and KEYTRUDA could have in the treatment of patients with recurrent glioblastoma.”

The agreement is between DNAtrix and Merck, through a subsidiary. Additional details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

 

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