Merck KGaA has breathed some life back into its lung cancer vaccine, which many wrote off after it tanked in a Phase III trial in late 2012. After vowing to make a renewed effort to find some value in the jab last September, this week the company announced the start of a new Phase III study.
Germany's Merck KGaA signed a licensing agreement with Menlo Park, CA-based Auxogyn to sell its fertility-enhancing diagnostic test in Europe and Canada with an option to extend the agreement to other countries.
Last month Pfizer and the Broad Institute published details of their work to find diabetes drug targets in genome data. Now Pfizer has teamed with Merck KGaA to give the institute another pot of cash to investigate lupus.
Merck KGaA last year closed manufacturing facilities as part of a major restructuring to cut costs. This year it is planning to build them to serve areas that it has decided have the greatest potential as well as expected growth in emerging markets.
After suffering a string of late-phase failures in recent years, Merck KGaA is in the middle of restructuring its business and rebuilding its pipeline. This week, the company began working with two potential sources of new drugs when computational biology and antibody discovery startups joined its Israeli bio incubator.
Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit and Merck KGaA are joining the parade of companies rolling out new manufacturing facilities in China, a market that could become the world's largest in a decade.
When Merck KGaA's lung cancer vaccine Stimuvax flunked Phase III trials in December, many thought the project was dead. Merck continued to work on the compound though, and now, having probed the improvements seen in some patients in the last trial, is heading back to the clinic.
Life Technologies is linking with Merck Serono to develop companion diagnostics for cancer and other diseases, a calculated advance for the company as it waits to be snatched up by Thermo Fisher in a $13.6 billion deal.
Despite flunking a Phase III trial in December, Merck KGaA is still talking about its lung cancer vaccine. The company has decided to push on with another ongoing late-phase trial in Asia and is now weighing the options of starting a further study.
The lung cancer vaccine race has brought together an unusual mix of players. Merck KGaA was in a good position, but its vaccine disappointed in Phase III, while GlaxoSmithKline could report data on its candidate this year. Then there is the Cuba-Argentina joint venture.