cancer oncologyDomain Therapeutics 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 €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 programmes,” said Pascal Neuville, CEO, Domain Therapeutics. “As a strong collaborator with a leading investigational checkpoint inhibitor, we are confident that through Merck, our programmes will progress rapidly.”

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