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28 May 2015

Merck and NanoString Collaborate to Develop an Immune-Related Gene Expression Assay for Use in the Development Programme for Keytruda

Merck (MSD outside the US and Canada) and NanoString Technologies have announced a clinical research collaboration to develop an assay that will optimize immune-related gene expression signatures and evaluate the potential to predict benefit from Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), in multiple tumour types. The collaboration between NanoString Technologies, a provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products, and Merck, through a subsidiary, will utilise NanoString’s nCounter Analysis System to optimize gene expression signatures as part of the clinical development program for Keytruda.


“Our commitment to advancing the science of immuno-oncology includes pursuing cutting-edge RNA and DNA approaches to identify a range of biomarkers, such as immune-related gene expression signatures, that in addition to PD-L1 expression, may help to identify patients who may be more likely to experience improved benefit with Keytruda,” said Dr Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early-stage development, Merck Research Laboratories. “Our collaboration with NanoString Technologies is an important advancement for our early-stage, immuno-oncology development program. Early data exploring the predictive value of the NanoString-derived gene expression signatures with Keytruda will be presented at ASCO 2015.”


“We are excited to work with Merck to help direct treatment with Keytruda,” said Brad Gray, president and chief executive officer of NanoString Technologies. “New approaches in immuno-oncology, like Keytruda, have the potential to transform cancer care across many different tumor types. With our nCounter technology and in vitro diagnostic capability, NanoString is ideally positioned to address the critical challenge of matching patients to powerful new therapies. This collaboration with Merck complements our existing relationships with MD Anderson and the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network, and builds on our leadership position in immuno-oncology biomarker development.”

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