FRANKFURT: Germany’s Merck KGaA said two of its experimental oncology drugs showed early signs of promise in certain lung cancer patients, potentially helping the company’s efforts to find drug-industry partners to share further development costs.
The family-controlled company on Wednesday released some initial data from early- and mid-stage trials that will be presented in more detail at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago in early June.
A bifunctional fusion protein known as M7824, which combines two immunotherapy mechanism, led to tumour shrinkage in 40.7 percent of patients in a small study group suffering from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
In another study, cancer drug tepotinib was associated with partial tumour shrinkage in 9 out of 15 trial participants, according to an interim analysis of an ongoing trial in the second of typically three stages of testing on humans.
Patients in that trial are suffering from NSCLC that is driven by a certain type of genetic mutation.
Merck, which has a promising drug pipeline for the first time in several years, is looking for development partners for experimental treatments including tepotinib and M7824, as an expected decline in operating profit, this year forces it to find new ways to finance pharmaceutical development.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Mark Potter)