NanoString Technologies has announced that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, through a subsidiary, to develop and commercialize a novel diagnostic assay to predict response to Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy. Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, NanoString will be responsible for seeking regulatory approval for and commercialization of the diagnostic test. NanoString will be eligible to receive up to $24 million for technology access and near-term milestones, in addition to development funding and other potential regulatory milestone payments.
Previously, the companies had engaged in a research collaboration to develop an assay to evaluate the potential to predict benefit from KEYTRUDA. The expanded collaboration is for the development and commercialization of the selected gene expression signature on NanoString's nCounter® Dx Analysis System as a diagnostic assay to predict response to KEYTRUDA in multiple tumor types.
"We look forward to working with NanoString on the development of their diagnostic assay to help identify patients who are most likely to benefit from KEYTRUDA in multiple additional tumor types," said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories.
"We are excited to expand our collaboration with Merck to develop this novel assay for predicting response to anti-PD-1 therapies such as KEYTRUDA. We believe this gene signature has the potential to become the basis for a universally available assay that serves as the 'gold standard‘ for informing treatment with immuno-oncology therapies," said Brad Gray, President and Chief Executive Officer of NanoString Technologies. "This collaboration solidifies NanoString's position as the leader in immuno-oncology biomarker signatures, and builds on our ongoing research collaborations with MD Anderson and the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network."
Under the terms of the expanded collaboration agreement, NanoString retains the flexibility to independently develop and commercialize additional indications for the resulting diagnostic assay. In particular, this signature could form the basis for a comprehensive immuno-oncology test with the ability to direct use of multiple therapeutic classes, alone or in combination.