Merrimack shuts down development of investigational cancer drug, staff cuts to follow

pharmafile | April 8, 2019 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing cacner, merrimack, oncology, pharma 

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals has taken the decision to terminate development of its antibody-directed nanotherapeutic cancer therapy MM-310 in the treatment of solid tumours, it has emerged.

The company made the move after data from a Phase 1 study indicated that MM-310 “would not be able to reach an optimal therapeutic index”. Merrimack amended the operation of the trial in November after three solid tumour patients were observed to develop emerging cumulative grade 3 peripheral neuropathy following multiple treatment cycles with MM-310; the company adjusted the dosing regimen from every three weeks to every four weeks and tightening inclusion and exclusion criteria. Despite these changes the therapy was still shown to result in significant cumulative peripheral neuropathy, preventing it from reaching an optimal therapeutic index.

“We are disappointed that amending the trial protocol does not appear to have solved the cumulative toxicity observed in patients treated with MM-310,” said Dr Sergio Santillana, Chief Medical Officer of Merrimack. “However, we are grateful to our investigators and patients for their commitment to cancer research, and to our team for all their efforts in supporting the development and clinical evaluation of MM-310.”

Dr Richard Peters, President & Chief Executive Officer at the company, also remarked: “Due to our ongoing exploration of strategic alternatives and given these unfortunate challenges in identifying a clinically meaningful safety profile for MM-310, we have decided to halt further development of the programme. Additionally, as we have narrowed the scope of our pipeline to our two most promising preclinical programmes, MM-401 and MM-201, we are initiating steps to close out remaining clinical activities in order to further preserve our resources. We continue to prudently advance these programmes as we work expeditiously to bring our ongoing strategic process to conclusion.”

Alongside the decision to discontinue the trial, the company also announced that it expects to “initiate a workforce reduction”, meaning staff cuts are likely on the way. While no specifics were revealed, Merrimack said that any such action would be taken “reflective of its narrowed preclinical pipeline and in line with prior cost-cutting measures”.

Matt Fellows

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