Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Oncology

Oncology

Future of Oncology

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is relentless in its pursuit to develop and deliver breakthrough cancer therapies that make a meaningful difference to people affected by cancer. With our focus on biomarker-driven research, we aim to deliver personalized treatments and a transformative pipeline. Translational research is embedded in the entire R&D process, with several projects addressing unmet needs in hard-to-treat cancers through innovative treatment approaches and novel combinations.
Our risk-balanced pipeline consists of high-quality, selective small molecules, antibodies and antibody−drug conjugates with strong translational research data supporting their clinical development. We are developing drugs with First- or Best-in-Class potential and clear differentiation in our five focused innovation clusters:
  • Oncogenic Signaling
  • Antibody−Drug Conjugates (ADCs)
  • DNA Repair
  • Tumor Metabolism
  • Tumor Cell Plasticity
Our company has broad expertise in developing highly selective drugs against key enzymes in Oncogenic Signaling pathways. Through our partnerships with Mersana and Sutro we have gained access to innovative technology platforms to develop differentiated next-generation ADCs. Combining our internal pipeline with the assets licensed from Vertex in 2017, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is positioned to become a leader in the DNA repair field with significant investment made in new target identification and translational research. We are also committed to co-discovery partnerships and enabling leadership in other exploratory areas, including Tumor Metabolism and Tumor Cell Plasticity.
We are dedicated to delivering personalized medicine through our biomarker-driven translational research, with the goal of identifying patient populations likely to respond to treatment, guiding optimal dosing and increasing the probability of success in clinical development.
We believe that rational combination is key to the future of new and more efficacious treatment options, whether in combination with chemo/radiotherapy, other targeted therapies and/or immunotherapies.
Finally, we recognize that none of this can be accomplished alone: we have to join forces with leading academic institutions and innovative biotechnology companies to achieve our goals. Therefore, we are committed to balancing the right blend of internal capabilities and external partnerships. Our integrated research and development capacity is strongly supported by partnering activities to complement our pipeline, strengthen our technology base and enhance our scientific capabilities.
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Oncology Pipeline

BGB-283 (BRAF inhibitor)
  • BGB-283 is a second-generation BRAF inhibitor. 
  • BRAF is a protein that is a downstream component of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, which is thought to promote cancer cell growth and which is dysregulated in a number of human cancers.
M7583 (BTK inhibitor)
  • M7583 is an oral, highly selective, covalent inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK). 
  • BTK is important for the development and function of various immune cells, including B lymphocytes and macrophages, and has proven to be an important factor in a variety of hematological malignancies.
Tepotinib (c-Met kinase inhibitor)
  • Tepotinib (also known as MSC2156119J) is an investigational small-molecule inhibitor of the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase that has been shown to cause growth inhibition and regression of tumors in preclinical models.
  • Alterations of the c-Met signaling pathway are found in various cancer types and correlate with aggressive tumor behavior and poor clinical prognosis.
M2698 (dual p70S6K/Akt inhibitor)
  • M2698 is an investigational small molecule inhibitor of p70S6K and Akt. 
  • Both targets are part of the PI3K pathway, which is often dysregulated in solid tumors.
M3814 (DNA-PK inhibitor)
  • M3814 is an investigational small-molecule inhibitor of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK). 
  • DNA-PK is a key enzyme for Non-homologous end-joining (NEHJ), the most important DNA double strand break (DSB) repair pathway and could potentially enhance the efficacy of many commonly used DNA-damaging agents, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapies.
  • M3814 complements our strong DNA damage repair (DDR) portfolio.
M9831 (DNA-PK inhibitor)
  • M9831 (also known as VX-984) is an investigational small-molecule inhibitor of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) 
  • DNA-PK is a key enzyme for Non-homologous end-joining (NEHJ), the most important double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway and could potentially enhance the efficacy of many commonly used DNA-damaging agents, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapies. 
  • M9831 was licensed from Vertex and complements our strong DNA damage repair (DDR) portfolio.
M6620 (ATR inhibitor)
  • M6620 (also known as VX-980) is an investigational small-molecule inhibitor of ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein (ATR).
  • ATR is a key sensor for DNA damage activating the DNA damage checkpoint and leading to cell cycle arrest.
  • Inhibition of ATR can enhance the efficacy of DNA-damaging agents, but is potentially also efficacious as monotherapy against tumors with high levels of replication stress induced by overexpression of oncogenes. 
  • M6620 was licensed from Vertex and complements our strong DNA damage repair (DDR) portfolio.
M4344 (ATR inhibitor)
  • M4344 (also known as VX-803) is an investigational small-molecule inhibitor of ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein (ATR).
  • ATR is a key sensor for DNA damage activating the DNA damage checkpoint and leading to cell cycle arrest.
  • Inhibition of ATR can enhance the efficacy of DNA-damaging agents, but is potentially also efficacious as monotherapy against tumors with high levels of replication stress induced by overexpression of oncogenes. 
  • M4344 was licensed from Vertex and complements our strong DNA damage repair (DDR) portfolio.
Please visit our interactive pipeline for more information.
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Our collaborations & partnerships

Scientific excellence requires the right mix of intuition and collaboration. Whilst the majority of our oncology pipeline molecules have been discovered in-house, we believe the creative process also benefits from collaborations externally. We have a strong network of alliances and so we have supplemented our expertise with leading thinkers from oncology centers of excellence, and industry and biotech innovators from partner organizations. Here is a selection of our collaborations:
Ablynx
A multi-year research alliance on co-discovery and co-development of novel biological entities against cancer targets based on Ablynx’s nanobody technology.
Selvita
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, entered a 3-year collaboration to validate new therapeutic concepts in the field of oncology with Selvita. The aim of the collaboration is to deliver potential first- and best-in-class small molecules as lead candidate drugs for multiple oncology indications.
Mersana
A collaboration and license agreement with Mersana to develop next-generation ADCs. Mersana and KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, will leverage Mersana’s Fleximer® technology to generate ADCs for multiple targets.
Sutro
A strategic partnership between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Sutro to develop ADCs, combining our knowledge about target biology with Sutro’s technological and discovery capabilities.
Institute of Cancer Research and Wellcome Trust
A joint program between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and Wellcome Trust to develop drug candidates for the treatment of different forms of cancer. The co-development and license agreement builds on two independent research programs at both the ICR and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, to identify inhibitors of tankyrase.
Cancer Research Technology (CRT)
A joint drug discovery feasibility study focused on the role of the Hippo pathway in cancer.
University of Dundee
A funding program in support of the University of Dundee’s Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT). KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany – alongside other pharmaceutical companies – supports fundamental research in multiple therapeutics areas including cancer. 
BioMed X
A funding program in support of two research groups at the BioMed X Innovation Center in Heidelberg working on Tumor Metabolism and DNA Damage in Cancer with the aim to identify novel targets and develop innovative approaches in the respective research areas.
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DISCLAIMER

Publication of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
There are two different, unaffiliated companies that use the name MERCK. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates this website, uses the firm name “Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany,” in the United States and Canada, and also uses “EMD Serono” in biopharma, “MilliporeSigma” in life science and “EMD Performance Materials” in materials business. The other company, Merck & Co., Inc. holds the rights in the trademark MERCK in the United States and Canada. Merck & Co. is not affiliated with or related to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which owns the MERCK trademark in all other countries of the world.   To reflect such fact and to avoid any confusion, certain logos, terms and business descriptions of the publications on this website have been substituted or modified, such as by referring to “Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany” instead of “Merck” standing alone.  Publications on this webpage, therefore, slightly deviate from the otherwise identical versions accessible outside the United States and Canada.
 

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