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Merck & Co and TetraLogic in Keytruda combo deal

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Executive Summary

Merck & Co and TetraLogic are to collaborate on a Phase I trial testing Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab) with TetraLogic's SMAC-mimetic in patients with relapsed or refractory solid tumors. The deal builds on the growing trend to combine agents that act in different ways help the body's immune system to fight against cancer - a Phase II study combining Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) with Opdivo (nivolumab) has just shown highly promising results in melanoma albeit with some side-effect problems. TetraLogic says its birinapant (TL32711) is a bivalent SMAC-mimetic that binds with differential affinity to multiple members of the IAP family in order to re-establish the immune system's ability to kill abnormal cells via an extracellular TNF signal. Like Opdivo, Merck’s Keytruda is one of a number of agents targeting the interaction between PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1) and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2. Under the terms of the agreement, TetraLogic and Merck will collaborate on an initial Phase I dose-escalation study of the combination. TetraLogic will sponsor and fund the study and Merck will provide Keytruda. Results from the study will be used to determine the path for further clinical development of the combination.

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