Domain Therapeutics-08Domain Therapeutics, Strasbourg, France, has signed a collaboration and licensing agreement with Merck, Kenilworth, NJ, for the development of adenosine receptor antagonist drugs specifically designed for oncology and immunooncology.

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 milestone payments, as well as undisclosed royalties.

Pascal Neuville, Domain Therapeutics.

Pascal Neuville, Domain Therapeutics.

“With its growing portfolio of immunooncology agents, Merck is the ideal partner to develop our adenosine programs,” says Pascal Neuville, CEO of 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 checkpoint inhibitors. While blocking certain adenosine receptors has been shown to increase tumor 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 immunooncology pipeline,” says Laszlo Radvanyi, senior vice president and head of immunooncology research 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.”

For more information, visit Domain Therapeutics.