21-Oct-2020 - Merck KGaA

Merck Awards Grant to Combined Therapeutics for its Nucleic Acid Platform

Platform combined with virotherapy targets cancerous cells while protecting healthy tissue of key organs

Merck announced that Combined Therapeutics Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, has been selected as the North American winner of its 2020 Advance Biotech Grant Program. The biotechnology company was selected for its innovative nucleic acid platform which, combined with virotherapy, has the potential to treat liver cancer by using a lipid nanoparticle delivery system.

“We help pioneering biotech companies bring lifesaving drugs to market, faster,” said Andrew Bulpin, head of Process Solutions, Life Science, at Merck. “Combined Therapeutics’ platform shows promise to treat liver cancer, which affects thousands of people across the world each year.”

As part of the award, Combined Therapeutics Inc. will receive in-kind Merck products and consultation in downstream processing, formulation excipients and sterile filtration. 

Combined Therapeutics Inc. is in pre-clinical development of a platform to treat cancer by targeting solid tumors, while protecting the healthy tissue of key organs. Virotherapy is a treatment that uses a modified virus to target and destroy cancer cells. However, this approach can often lead to low patient response and safety concerns due to poor targeting. Combined Therapeutics aims to direct and enhance virotherapies while preventing off-target effects. With its potential to target specific cells only, this combined approach shows promise to be a safe and effective therapy for cancer.

“Merck’s expertise in large biomolecule filtration, scale-up and extensive range of excipients will play a pivotal role in moving this project forward to GMP and clinical trials,” said Romain Micol, chief executive officer, Combined Therapeutics Inc. “We are honored to have been selected as the winner of Merck’s Advance Biotech Grant, and we look forward to the collaboration.”

Since 2014, Merck’s Advance Biotech Grant Program has awarded technologies and consultation to 28 biotechnology companies. These grants have been used to support biotech companies whose missions are to help patients suffering from cancer, brain tumors, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disorders.

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