Vertex Pharmaceuticals initiated a Phase II development program for VX-680, an investigational drug candidate targeting Aurora kinase. In connection with the Phase II program, Vertex earned a $10 million milestone payment from Merck. The two companies have a global collaboration to develop and commercialize VX-680.
The initiation of Phase II development for VX-680 is based on the enrollment of patients with advanced colorectal cancer in a Phase II extension of a previous Phase I clinical study. Merck also expects to initiate a Phase II study for VX-680 in patients with advanced lung cancer this year.
"We continue to make progress in the development of VX-680 as marked by the initiation of the Phase II development program," said Stephen H. Friend, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president, Oncology at Merck Research Laboratories. "This Phase II study represents a continuation of our efforts to broadly assess the activity of VX-680 in a range of solid tumors and hematologic cancers."
"VX-680's advancement to Phase II development underscores the rapid progress that we and Merck have made to characterize the activity of this novel, potential cancer treatment," said Joshua Boger, Ph.D., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Vertex.
The Phase II development for VX-680 is based on the enrollment of patients with advanced colorectal cancer who may have received up to three prior cancer treatments. The open-label, non-randomized study will enroll approximately 20 patients and is being conducted at major cancer treatment centers in the U.S.