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The acquisition gives Merck a new Phase III COVID-19 therapeutic candidate, CD24Fc, a fusion protein that targets the innate immune system, in its pipeline.
Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and OncoImmune, a US-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced on Nov. 23, 2020 that they have entered into an acquisition agreement where Merck will acquire all outstanding shares of OncoImmune for an upfront payment of $425 million in cash.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will fast-track the development of OncoImmune’s COVID-19 therapeutic candidate, CD24Fc, a first-in-class recombinant fusion protein that targets the innate immune system, currently in Phase III clinical development for the treatment of severe and critical disease patients. The therapeutic candidate recently received positive results from an interim efficacy analysis of data from the Phase III study.
“Meaningful new therapeutic options are desperately needed for possibly millions of people around the world who will develop severe or critical COVID-19 disease,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories, in a company press release. “Recent clinical investigations support the view that CD24Fc may provide benefit beyond standard-of-care therapy for COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen support, and hence will represent an important addition to the Merck pipeline of investigational medicines and vaccines designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Outstanding work by the OncoImmune team has provided compelling evidence regarding the use of CD24Fc in patients with severe and critical COVID-19 in our Phase III trial,” added Yang Liu, PhD, co-founder and CEO of OncoImmune, in the press release. “We look forward to working with the scientists and manufacturing engineers at Merck as well as regulators as we seek to accelerate the global development of this potentially important therapy.”