MD Anderson and EMD Serono enter three-year strategic collaboration to accelerate development of investigational oncology/immuno-oncology compounds

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and EMD Serono, the healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the U.S. and Canada, today announced a three-year strategic collaboration, with the aim of more quickly advancing the development of investigational cancer therapies in four cancers – breast, colorectal, glioblastoma and leukemia.

“This collaboration illustrates our commitment to delivering meaningful value to patients by rapidly progressing our immuno-oncology pipeline, focusing on the identification of innovative biomarkers, together with our partner, the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center,” said Belén Garijo, CEO Healthcare and Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

EMD Serono will be the first company to gain access to the Adaptive Patient-Oriented Longitudinal Learning and Optimization Platform (APOLLO) – MD Anderson’s research platform that standardizes the long-term collection of patients’ medical history and data derived from tissue samples in order to better understand the biology of cancer and accelerate research-driven patient care. The collaboration will encompass both biomarker-focused pre-clinical research and clinical trials in specific tumor types aimed at identifying biomarkers of response and resistance and developing a better understanding of the disease biology.

The collaboration will enhance the value of EMD Serono’s future oncology/immuno-oncology pipeline, with a goal of multiple registrational studies in novel indications in the next two to three years. Data from APOLLO will be used to match a number of investigational compounds to select tumor types for potential development and collaboratively design biomarker-driven pre-clinical and clinical studies at MD Anderson evaluating the potential therapeutic effect of the compounds – alone or in combination.

APOLLO was developed by MD Anderson as part of its Moon Shots Program, an ambitious effort to reduce cancer deaths by more rapidly developing and implementing advances in prevention, early detection and treatment based on scientific discoveries.

“Our goal when establishing the APOLLO research platform was to enable innovative solutions such as this collaboration between academia and industry to help accelerate clinical advances for the benefit of all cancer patients,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president, MD Anderson. “This joint effort supports our mission to end cancer by addressing some of the greatest challenges in oncology today.”

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is committed to exploring an array of targets, and taking creative scientific approaches to developing novel therapies for hard-to-treat cancers. The strength of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s promising oncology development program and growing presence in the immunotherapy space demonstrates how the company is re-imagining the way cancer care is delivered.