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Merck KgaA Inks License Agreement With Symphogen On Sym004 - Update

9/6/2012 2:10 AM ET

Merck KGaA (MKGAY.PK) said Thursday that an exclusive worldwide license agreement was signed with Copenhagen, Denmark-based Symphogen A/S for Sym004, an investigational antibody mixture targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor or EGFR.

As per the agreement, Merck will gain exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Sym004 and will pay Symphogen 20 million euros upfront. Merck will also make payments to Symphogen for clinical development, regulatory and sales performance milestones. Symphogen will also be eligible for potential royalties on net worldwide sales.

Sym004 is comprised of two antibodies that are designed to block ligand binding, receptor activation and downstream signaling. They are also thought to elicit removal of the EGFR receptors from the cancer cell surface by inducing EGFR internalization and degradation.

Sym004 is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II trial for the treatment of patients with advanced KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer or mCRC, who have previously progressed on treatment with standard chemotherapy and a marketed anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody.

Additionally, a single-arm, open-label Phase II trial in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, or SCCHN, who have failed anti-EGFR-based therapy is currently in progress.

Dr. Susan Jane Herbert, Head of Global Business Development and Strategy for the Merck Serono division, said, "Sym004 further strengthens our early development pipeline by adding a product that is thought to act via a proposed synergistic mechanism of action not previously studied, but more specifically, it has the potential to become a key asset complementing our already highly successful Erbitux franchise."

The stock closed up 0.79 percent in Frankfurt on Wednesday at 91.65 euros.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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