Complix, a biopharmaceutical company developing a pipeline of transformative protein therapeutics, called Alphabodies, for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, has entered into a strategic drug discovery collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc. (MSD) through its subsidiary, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., to develop Cell-Penetrating Alphabodies (CPABs) for the treatment of cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement, Complix will use its proprietary Alphabody platform to deliver CPABs against up to two intracellular cancer targets. MSD will fund related research activities and has an option to the exclusive, worldwide rights for any of the resulting compounds. Complix is entitled to receive an upfront payment and potential development milestones of up to $280 million, as well as tiered royalties.
Dr Mark Vaeck, CEO of Complix, said: “This collaboration with MSD is a major corporate milestone for Complix and highlights the potential of our unique CPAB platform, which we believe will deliver game changing biotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer. With such a high quality partner, I am confident that Complix will be able to rapidly progress the development of CPAB drug candidates that we will generate against cancer targets of interest to MSD. I am very much looking forward to working with the team of MSD.”
“This collaboration with Complix is an excellent example of our focus on finding and bringing forward new approaches that will further enhance and complement our immuno-oncology clinical development program,” said Dr Rob Kastelein, scientific associate vice president, MSD Research Laboratories. “This sort of deep and intensive type of collaboration is at the core of MSD’s vision to bring forward innovative, breakthrough science that extends the lives of patients with cancer.”
CPABs are a revolutionary class of small proteins engineered to bind to a variety antigens. Data available show that CPABs have the potential to address a wide range of disease targets, including intracellular targets that are difficult for current therapies to reach. To date, Complix has shown that CPABs have the unique ability to enter tumour cells effectively and selectively modulate intracellular protein-to-protein interactions, which play a key role in the initiation and progression of a broad range of cancers. CPABs are also able to enter many different types of tumour cells and remain stable within the tumour tissue for up to 24 hours post administration.