Oncology and Immuno-Oncology

Through a biology-driven focused approach, we aim to deliver treatments that can potentially make a difference for people living with cancer.


Oncology

Our oncology pipeline holds promise in the near term through our later-stage priority programs, and our early pipeline includes several potentially groundbreaking modalities. All are selective, clearly differentiated and have the potential to be best-in-class. 

We focus on four innovation clusters:

  • Oncogenic Signaling
  • DNA Damage Response (DDR)
  • Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs)
  • Stress and Plasticity

As part of our commitment to precision medicine, we use predictive biomarkers to identify those patient populations that are most likely to respond to treatment. Moreover, we apply pharmacodynamic biomarkers in order to guide optimal dosing and thereby increase the probability of success in clinical development.

We believe that rational combinations are key to developing new treatment options. Therefore, we are currently combining selected targeted therapies with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, other targeted agents and/or immunotherapies, leveraging our own as well as external portfolios and partnerships to identify new ways to possibly improve patient outcomes.

We are aware that we can identify and develop therapies and biomarkers for patients better and faster with the help of external collaborations. We collaborate with leading academic institutions and industry innovators to complement our pipeline, strengthen our technology base and enhance our scientific capabilities.

View our pipeline to see what we’re currently working on across therapeutic areas and clinical development phases. Learn more

Immuno-Oncology

Immuno-oncology (IO) is where immunology and oncology intersect. By harnessing the immune system, IO aims to activate or augment the body’s natural response against cancer.

IO is changing the cancer landscape, and the recent development of IO compounds represents a ‘quantum leap’ for cancer therapy. We are committed to harnessing this potential to develop new therapies, improve outcomes and make a difference for people living with cancer.

Our IO R&D platform follows a biology-driven strategy that pursues novel, differentiated, investigational therapeutic targets. We focus on:

  • Next generation immune checkpoint inhibitors to release the brakes on anti-tumor responses
  • Modulation of metabolites in the tumor microenvironment to alleviate immunosuppression
  • Activation of the body’s defenses against tumors, including tumor phagocytosis (white blood cells engulfing tumors) and inhibiting the suppression of T-cells by myeloid-derived suppressor cells
  • Exploration of the role of natural killer cells and T-cell engagers in the tumor microenvironment
  • Localized co-stimulation of T-cells to boost anti-tumor responses
  • Research of novel biomarkers in collaboration with academic oncology centers

We operate a translational innovation platform that accelerates the highest-quality science. Our pipeline includes potentially groundbreaking modalities and mechanisms targeting difficult-to-treat cancers. We discovered the majority of our oncology and IO pipeline molecules in-house. But innovation often benefits from broader collaboration. To enhance our expertise, we have created a strong network of alliances with external partners. These include leading thinkers from oncology centers of excellence, as well as industry and biotech innovators from partner organizations. Learn more 

Select list of oncology and immuno-oncology collaborations

Alliance with Pfizer

Alliance with Pfizer

The global strategic alliance with Pfizer enables each company to benefit from each other’s strengths and capabilities and further explore the therapeutic potential of an IO agent. 

BioMed X

BioMed X

This funding program supports research groups at the BioMed X Innovation Center in Heidelberg working on tumor metabolism, DNA damage in cancer and alternative splicing to identify novel cancer targets and develop innovative approaches in these research areas.

Cancer Research UK Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories (CRUK-TDL)

Cancer Research UK Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories (CRUK-TDL)

A joint drug discovery partnership with Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories aims to identify new oncology molecules targeting the Hippo pathway, which has been linked to the development of a range of cancers.

Dako: companion diagnostic

Dako: companion diagnostic

The alliance with Pfizer and Dako (Agilent) announced a collaboration agreement to develop a companion diagnostic test to assess PD-L1 protein expression levels.

Domain Therapeutics: adenosine receptor antagonists

Domain Therapeutics: adenosine receptor antagonists

This collaboration and licensing agreement includes the development of adenosine receptor antagonists specifically designed for oncology and immuno-oncology. Adenosine has been identified as a key component in resistance mechanisms for many tumors targeted by immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Goethe University Frankfurt

Goethe University Frankfurt

Several multi-year scientific collaborations with leading experts in the areas of CRISPR technology and proteomics support target and biomarker identification and validation in oncology research. 

GSK

GSK

A global alliance with GSK is working jointly to develop and commercialize bintrafusp alfa, an investigational bifunctional fusion protein immunotherapy designed to simultaneously target two immuno-suppressive pathways, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and PD-L1, that are commonly used by cancer cells to evade the immune system. 

Illumina: oncology diagnostic

Illumina: oncology diagnostic

A strategic alliance with Illumina, Inc., will expand the development of a universal next-generation sequencing-based oncology diagnostic for clinical trials of targeted cancer therapies. 

Institute of Cancer Research

Institute of Cancer Research

A joint program between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, the Institute of Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK is focused on developing drug candidates for highly innovative targets in the context of DDR, alternative RNA splicing and Wnt signaling. 

MD Anderson

MD Anderson

A strategic collaboration with MD Anderson aims to more quickly advance the development of our oncology/IO pipeline in four cancers, with a goal of multiple registrational studies in novel indications in the coming years.

Mersana

Mersana

A collaboration and licensing agreement with Mersana seeks to develop next-generation antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), leveraging Mersana’s Fleximer® technology to generate ADCs for multiple targets.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

A collaborative research and development agreement with the NCI aims to more quickly advance the pre-clinical and clinical science of selected compounds and combinations of our IO and oncology portfolio.

Nerviano

Nerviano

Under the terms of the agreement, Nerviano Medical Sciences grants Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany an exclusive right to conduct joint research and to develop, manufacture and commercialize inhibitors of certain molecular targets in the area of DNA damage repair.

SGC

SGC

Since 2017 Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is a member of the Structural Genomics Consortium and collaborates with world-leading experts in the area of structural biology on target discovery and validation for example in the context of DDR and RNA Splicing.

Sutro

Sutro

This strategic partnership aims to develop ADCs, combining our knowledge about target biology with Sutro’s technological and discovery capabilities.

University of Dundee

University of Dundee

Through a funding program in support of the University of Dundee’s Division of Signal Transduction Therapy, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany – alongside other pharmaceutical companies – helps drive fundamental research in multiple therapeutics areas, including cancer. 

Vertex: DNA damage response (DDR)

Vertex: DNA damage response (DDR)

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany entered a licensing agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals for the worldwide development and commercialization of two clinical-stage programs designed to inhibit DDR pathways, as well as pre-clinical programs in IO, against a completely novel target.

Weizmann Institute of Science

Weizmann Institute of Science

This collaboration and licensing partnership aims to deliver new innovative solutions to address unmet needs in immuno-oncology. We have partnered with Weizmann Institute of Science for nearly four decades.

We have also announced strategic collaborations with Debiopharm, Forty Seven, Transgene and Vaccinex on individual cancer trials evaluating our compounds in combination with other investigational compounds.

Redirect

You have accessed https://www.emdgroup.com, but for users from your part of the world, we originally designed the following web presence https://www.merckgroup.com.

Let's go

Share Disclaimer

By sharing this content, you are consenting to share your data to this social media provider. More information are available in our Privacy Statement