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ImmunoGen, Merck to Evaluate Ovarian Cancer Drug Combo

February 5, 2016

To assess ImmunoGen’s mirvetuximab soravtansine in combination with Merck’s Keytruda

ImmunoGen and Merck have entered into a clinical research collaboration to assess ImmunoGen’s mirvetuximab soravtansine in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), for the treatment of patients with FRα-positive ovarian cancer.
 
Mirvetuximab soravtansine, a monoclonal antibody, enables it to bind to FRα-positive tumor cells with ImmunoGen’s DM4, a maytansinoid cancer-killing agent, to kill these cells. In preclinical research conducted by ImmunoGen, ADCs with maytansinoids have been found to enhance the activation of dendritic cells of the immune system that stimulate antitumor responses. 
 
Keytruda is a humanized monoclonal antibody that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. Keytruda blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T-lymphocytes, which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.
 
ImmunoGen is conducting a Phase Ib/II trial evaluating mirvetuximab soravtansine for FRα-positive ovarian cancer used in combination with other anticancer agents. The assessment of mirvetuximab soravtansine with Keytruda will be added to this trial, with Merck supplying the Keytruda. The agreement may be expanded to include a subsequent Phase III clinical trial.
 
“We look forward to evaluating our mirvetuximab soravtansine ADC in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda,” said Daniel Junius, ImmunoGen president and chief executive officer. “In early clinical testing, mirvetuximab soravtansine has demonstrated notable activity as a single agent for FRα-positive ovarian cancer, and we are aggressively advancing it for this use.”
 
“Fully realizing the potential for Keytruda to help patients with cancer requires strategic collaborations, such as this agreement with ImmunoGen, that explore how complementary approaches might result in improved outcomes for patients,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Labs. “We look forward to evaluating the data from this combined approach in patients with FRα-positive ovarian cancer.”