The asset is an unspecific preclinical tetravalent bispecific antibody, which will be investigated to target cancer.
No details were released on how much Merck KGaA will have to pay as part of the deal, but F-star noted that further ‘success-based milestones’ will be due later in development.
The immuno-oncology candidate is the second such program that Merck has licensed from F-star, with the former company also choosing to license another potential treatment in May 2019.
In addition to this deal, the two companies have expanded the current partnership for the further inclusion of two preclinical programs, again without specifying the financial details.
F-star Therapeutics’ CEO, Eliot Forster, explained that the company will focus on three clinical-stage molecules that it holds within its pipeline. This includes FS118, a treatment for resistant and refractory cancer that is currently in Phase I clinical trials.
For Merck, the deal represents a further expansion of its oncology pipeline, which has seen the company develop M7824, a bifunctional fusion protein, that GSK partnered on last year – in return for €3.7bn ($4.2bn).