AstraZeneca and Merck Enter License Agreement for Ovarian Cancer Therapy

September 18, 2013

AstraZeneca and Merck & Co. form a licensing agreement for Merck?s oral small-molecule drug for ovarian cancer.

AstraZeneca and Merck & Co. have formed a licensing agreement for Merck’s oral, small-molecule inhibitor of WEE1 kinase (MK-1775). MK-1775 is currently being evaluated in Phase IIA clinical studies in combination with standard of care therapies for the treatment of patients with certain types of ovarian cancer.

WEE1 helps to regulate the cell-division cycle. The WEE1 inhibitor MK-1775 is designed to cause certain tumor cells to divide without undergoing the normal DNA repair processes, ultimately leading to cell death. Preclinical evidence suggests that the combination of MK-1775 and DNA damage-inducing chemotherapy agents can enhance antitumor properties in comparison to chemotherapy alone.

Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay Merck a $50-million upfront fee. In addition, Merck will be eligible to receive future payments tied to development and regulatory milestones plus sales-related payments and tiered royalties. AstraZeneca will be responsible for all future clinical development, manufacturing, and marketing. The agreement is subject to approval of customary antitrust provisions.

Source: AstraZeneca