Merck boosts cancer pipeline in €464m deal

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/CIPhotos
iStock/CIPhotos
Merck & Co has announced it will acquire immunotherapy-focused Rigontec and lead candidate RGT100, designed to treat patients with solid tumours and lymphoma.

Merck (known as MSD outside of North America) will pay Rigontec €115m ($138m) for its assets and intellectual property, including RGT100, with potential contingent payments of up to €349m to follow.

RNA molecule RGT100, currently in Phase I development, is indicated to target the immune system via the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway in patients with solid tumours and lymphoma.

“Targeting RIG-I is a novel and distinct approach in cancer immune-therapy which has demonstrated substantial local and systemic tumour regression in several relevant ​in vivo models,” ​said Munich, Germany-headquartered Rigontec.

Pipeline focus

According to Merck’s Eric Rubin, this approach compliments Merck’s oncology pipeline.

“We are eager to build upon Rigontec’s science as we continue our efforts in bringing forward meaningful advances for patients with cancer,” ​he said.

Merck spokesperson Pamela Eisele told us plans to integrate Rigontec’s RIG-I technology into the firms clinical programmes could not yet be disclosed.

“We look forward to sharing updates on our immune-oncology strategy involving the RIG-1 pathway in the future,” ​she told us.

Staffing decisions

Eisele told us it was too early to comment on how the merger would affect headcount.

“The planning for the integration of Rigontec’s programmes and technology into Merck has just started.” 

“A high priority for Merck is to fully understand the capabilities of the people of Rigontec. When this has been done, we will of course communicate further,” ​she said.

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