• 14 avelumab abstracts at ASCO 2016 highlight significant progress being made by the collaboration between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer
• Two oral presentations: avelumab investigated as a second-line treatment for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma and in advanced mesothelioma
• Data featured contributes to growing understanding of the potential role of avelumab in treating a broad range of cancers
• JAVELIN clinical program rapidly accelerating
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer announced that avelumab* presentations across seven different tumor types, including two oral presentations, will be featured at the 52nd American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting being held June 3–7, 2016, in Chicago, IL. The avelumab presentations, from the rapidly accelerating JAVELIN clinical development program, include new study results from a number of difficult-to-treat cancers, including data from the pivotal Phase II trial of avelumab being investigated as second-line treatment for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Additional data include highlights from mesothelioma, adrenocortical carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and urothelial bladder, gastric and ovarian cancers, as well as updated safety data.
“One of our key highlights for ASCO will be the new avelumab data in second-line metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma,” said Luciano Rossetti, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Research & Development at the biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which in the US and Canada operates as EMD Serono. “As there are currently no approved treatments for this rare and aggressive cancer, these clinically meaningful data represent a breakthrough for this difficult-to-treat tumor type.”
Since ASCO 2015, the collaboration between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer has made significant progress. The JAVELIN development program for avelumab now includes 30 ongoing clinical programs and nine pivotal studies. As of May 2016, JAVELIN now includes approximately 2,200 patients, being treated across more than 15 tumor types.
“These data add to the growing body of evidence for avelumab, indicating efficacy and a favorable safety profile in multiple cancers, which supports ongoing development,” said Chris Boshoff, M.D., PhD., Vice President and Head of Early Development, Translational and Immuno-Oncology at Pfizer Oncology. “Through our comprehensive JAVELIN clinical development program for avelumab, we are making meaningful advances for a broad range of patients with cancer.”
Avelumab is an investigational, fully human antibody specific for a protein found on tumor cells called PD-L1, or programmed death ligand. As a checkpoint inhibitor, avelumab is thought to have a dual mechanism of action which is believed to enable the immune system to find and attack cancer cells. By binding to PD-L1, avelumab is thought to prevent tumor cells from using PD-L1 for protection against white blood cells such as T-cells, exposing them to anti-tumor responses. Avelumab is also thought to help white blood cells such as natural killer (NK) cells find and attack tumors in a process known as ADCC, or antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity.
Avelumab (also known as MSB0010718C) is an investigational, fully human anti-PD-L1 IgG1 monoclonal antibody. By inhibiting PD-L1 interactions, avelumab is thought to enable the activation of T-cells and the adaptive immune system. By retaining a native Fc-region, avelumab is thought to potentially engage the innate immune system and induce antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). In November 2014, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize avelumab.
Alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc., New York, US
Immuno-oncology is a top priority for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc. The global strategic alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc., New York, US, enables the companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and capabilities and further explore the therapeutic potential of avelumab, an investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody initially discovered and developed by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The immuno-oncology alliance will jointly develop and commercialize avelumab and advance Pfizer’s PD-1 antibody. The alliance is focused on developing high-priority international clinical programs to investigate avelumab as a monotherapy, as well as in combination regimens, and is striving to find new ways to treat cancer.
Pfizer Inc.: Working together for a healthier world®
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of healthcare products. Our global portfolio includes medicines and vaccines, as well as many of the world’s best-known consumer healthcare products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
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Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2015, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of € 12.85 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials in the United States and Canada.
Contact: Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Gangolf Schrimpf, +49 6151 72 9591
+49 6151 72 3321
Pfizer Inc., New York, USA
Sally Beatty, +1 212 733 6566
Ryan Crowe, +1 212 733 8160