Published On: Tue, Nov 24th, 2020

Merck to acquire OncoImmune for Covid-19 drug candidate CD24Fc

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Merck acquisition of : Pharma giant Merck has signed an all-cash deal worth $425 million to acquire OncoImmune to gain access to the latter’s investigational Covid-19 drug – CD24Fc.

Based in Maryland, OncoImmune is a clinical-stage biopharma company, that is focused on the discovery and development of therapies for cancer and autoimmune disease.

As per the terms of the OncoImmune Merck deal, the clinical-stage firm will also stand to get sales-based and milestone-based payments from the pharma giant in the future.

Recently, the clinical-stage biopharma company reported positive results from an interim efficacy analysis of a phase 3 trial of CD24Fc in patients with severe and critical Covid-19.

Comments on Merck acquisition of OncoImmune

– President Merck Research Laboratories, commenting on Merck acquisition of OncoImmune, said: “Meaningful new therapeutic options are desperately needed for possibly millions of people around the world who will develop severe or critical COVID-19 disease.

“Recent clinical investigations support the view that CD24Fc may provide benefit beyond standard of care therapy for COVID-19 patients requiring support, and hence will represent an important addition to the Merck pipeline of investigational medicines and vaccines designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Merck acquisition of OncoImmune

Merck acquisition of OncoImmune. Photo courtesy of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co.,

Details of OncoImmune CD24Fc

CD24Fc is a recombinant fusion protein which has been designed to the innate immune system. Before its Covid-19 phase 3 clinical trial, CD24Fc has been studied for safety in healthy volunteers and in phase 2 trials for the prevention of graft versus host disease (GVHD) following hematopoietic cell transplantation in leukemia patients.

A phase 3 clinical trial for prophylaxis of GVHD has been initiated across the US for CD24Fc.

Prior to the closing of the deal, OncoImmune will spin-out certain rights and assets that are not related to the CD24Fc program to a new entity, which will be owned by the company’s existing shareholders. In connection with the completion of the deal, Merck will invest $50 million and take a minority stake in the new entity.

Commenting on Merck acquisition of OncoImmune, Yang Liu – Co-founder and CEO of OncoImmune, said: “Outstanding work by the OncoImmune team has provided compelling evidence regarding the use of CD24Fc in patients with severe and critical COVID-19 in our Phase 3 Trial.

“We look forward to working with the scientists and manufacturing engineers at Merck as well as regulators as we seek to accelerate the global development of this potentially important therapy.”

The closing of Merck acquisition of OncoImmune is subject to approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and the meeting of other customary conditions and is likely to occur by the year-end.

Recent Merck acquisition history |

Earlier this month, Merck signed an all-cash deal worth $2.75bn to acquire California-based VelosBio to strengthen its oncology pipeline. Read more about Merck acquisition of VelosBio here.

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