Darmstadt, Germany, January 23, 2017 – Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company which operates its biopharmaceutical business in the US and Canada as EMD Serono, today announced it has entered into a collaboration and licensing agreement with Domain Therapeutics, Strasbourg, France, to explore the potential of adenosine inhibition in the development of novel immuno-oncology agents. This collaboration strengthens our combination strategy in immuno-oncology, and underscores Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s science-driven approach to discovering and developing novel compounds through both internal capabilities and external collaborations.

"This new generation of adenosine receptor antagonists are an important addition to our immuno-oncology pipeline,” said Laszlo Radvanyi, Senior Vice President, Head of Research in Immuno-Oncology at the biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “We plan to explore the promise of adenosine receptor antagonists and develop novel compounds to potentially use in new combination immunotherapies for cancer.”

Adenosine receptor antagonists are small molecules thought to slow tumor progression and improve the response to combination immunotherapies by inhibiting adenosine – a compound generated by cancer cells that inhibits anti-tumor responses by binding to T cells.

The agreement will involve a close collaboration between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Domain Therapeutics to develop and test new agents targeting key adenosine receptors. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, will support research activities and gain worldwide rights to Domain Therapeutics’ next generation of adenosine receptor inhibitors.

“With its growing portfolio of immuno-oncology agents, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is the ideal partner to develop our adenosine programs,” said Pascal Neuville, CEO, Domain Therapeutics. “As a strong collaborator with a leading investigational checkpoint inhibitor, we are confident that through Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, our programs will progress rapidly.”

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.