Merck ends licensing deal for Kelun-Biotech ADCs

Oct. 24, 2023

Days after announcing that it would be purchasing the rights to Daiichi Sankyo's candidates in a deal that could reach $22 billion, Merck is reconsidering some of the assets in its antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) portfolio.  

This week, Sichuan Kelun-Biotech revealed that Merck had chosen to discontinue an exclusive license for a preclinical ADC asset and decided not to exercise an exclusive option for another preclinical ADC asset within the collaboration. Kelun-Biotech will continue developing these assets and seek new collaboration opportunities. 

The two started working together in May 2022, inking an initial deal worth $47 million that granted Merck the rights to Kelun's investigational TROP2-targeting ADC outside of China. Then, in July, Merck signed a second licensing agreement with Kelun for the development of an experimental ADC for solid tumor treatment.

In a deal signed in December 2022, Kelun-Biotech licensed Merck the global rights to seven investigational preclinical ADCs for cancer treatment. Merck also gained exclusive options for additional ADC licenses.