Merck KGaA and Pfizer team up with Debiopharm in lung cancer treatment

pharmafile | October 21, 2016 | News story | Medical Communications Debiopharm, Merck KGaA, NSCLC, Pfizer, lung cancer 

Debiopharm International, the Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical group of five companies, announced that it would be entering into an agreement with Merck KGaA and Pfizer to evaluate its drug in combination with avelumab. Avelumab is already undergoing clinical trials for a variety of different cancer indications. Debiopharm will then trial their drug, Debio 1143, in conjunction with Merck KGaA and Pfizer’s avelumab, in Phasse I/IB trials to treat patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Debio 1143 is currently undergoing Phase II development for head and neck cancer, as well as ovarian cancer. It is an oral, small molecule inhibitor of IAPs (inhibitor of apoptosis proteins) that promotes apoptosis of cancer cells by mimicking the activity of the natural Second Mitochondrial-derived Activator of Caspases (SMAC). The agreement will see Debiopharm take responsibility for conducting the trials.

“We are delighted to initiate this collaboration in immuno-oncology with the Merck-Pfizer Alliance. It is a great opportunity to explore in the clinic the immunomodulatory properties of Debio 1143 observed in preclinical studies,” said Dr Chris Freitag, Vice President, Clinical Research & Development, Debiopharm International SA. “We are hopeful that the immunosensitizing effect of our compound in combination with avelumab may translate into a potentially better treatment outcome for patients suffering from this major debilitating disease.”

“Investigating the potential of combination therapy is an important strategic focus for the Merck-Pfizer Alliance,” said Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., Head of Immuno-Oncology, Early Development, and Translational Oncology at Pfizer. “This collaboration with Debiopharm provides a significant opportunity to explore the potential synergistic effects of these two agents in combination.”

Ben Hargreaves

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