Domain Therapeutics and Merck enter into a license and collaboration agreement for development of adenosine receptor antagonists in immuno-oncology

Merck to develop Domain Therapeutics’ next generation adenosine receptor programs for use in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors


Strasbourg, France, January 23, 2017 – Domain Therapeutics today announces that a collaboration and licensing agreement with Merck, a leading science and technology company, has been signed for the development of adenosine receptor antagonist drugs specifically designed for oncology and immuno-oncology.

The agreement will involve close collaboration between Merck and Domain Therapeutics to develop and test new agents targeting key adenosine receptors. Merck will support research activities and gain worldwide rights to Domain Therapeutics’ next generation of adenosine receptor inhibitors. Under the terms of the agreement, Domain will be eligible for more than EUR 240 million in milestones, as well as undisclosed royalties.

“With its growing portfolio of immuno-oncology agents, Merck is the ideal partner to develop our adenosine programs,” said Pascal Neuville, CEO, Domain Therapeutics. “As a strong collaborator with a leading investigational checkpoint inhibitor, we are confident that through Merck, our programs will progress rapidly.”

Adenosine has been identified as a key component in resistance mechanisms for many tumors targeted by immune check-point inhibitors. While blocking certain adenosine receptors has been shown to increase the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors, antagonizing other adenosine receptors has also been shown to slow tumor progression.

“This new generation of adenosine receptor antagonists is an important addition to our immuno-oncology pipeline,” said Laszlo Radvanyi, Senior Vice President, Head of Research in Immuno-Oncology at the biopharma business of Merck. “We plan to explore the promise of adenosine receptor antagonists and develop novel compounds to potentially use in new combination immunotherapies for cancer.”

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