Merck Serono and MorphoSys agree immuno-oncology collaboration

MorphoSys' Ylanthia antibody technology will be used to identify antibodies to fight tumours

Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, has agreed to work with MorphoSys on the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies against undisclosed immune checkpoints.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will join forces to develop therapies that modulate the immune system’s natural ability to fight tumours.

MorphoSys, based in Martinsried, Germany, will apply its proprietary Ylanthia antibody phage library and technology to identify antibodies against the targets of interest. Merck Serono will be fully responsible for execution of development from Phase I onwards.

MorphoSys will co-fund research and development costs with the option to opt-out at predefined stages. The company will be eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments, and royalties on product sales that will reflect the extent of its co-funding. Merck Serono will have sole responsibility for commercialising any resulting products.

Further financial details are not being disclosed.

Helen Sabzevari, Senior VP of Immuno-Oncology at Merck Serono said the combination of its expertise in immuno-oncology with MorphoSys’ next-generation antibody technology provides Merck Serono with an opportunity to rapidly generate novel therapies.

Simon Moroney, Chief Executive of MorphoSys, added: 'We believe that our Ylanthia technology has the potential to provide truly differentiated antibodies against the targets that will be the subject of the collaboration. Merck Serono’s expertise in immuno-oncology, together with its strength in developing and commercialising therapeutic antibodies makes the company an ideal partner for MorphoSys.'

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