Merck inks another low-key ADC deal with Kelun

July 26, 2022

Merck (MSD) has inked a second licensing agreement with China-based Kelun-Biotech to develop an investigational antibody drug conjugate (ADC) for the treatment of solid tumors, but without a lot of details.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kelun-Biotech — a subsidiary of Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical — has granted Merck global, exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize an unspecified investigational ADC. The partners will collaborate on the early clinical development. In return, Kelun-Biotech will receive an upfront payment of $35 million and is eligible to receive future milestone payments totaling up to $901 million, plus tiered royalties on net sales.

This is the second deal between the two companies. Back in mid-May Merck paid $47 million upfront for ex-China rights to Kelun's investigational TROP2 targeting ADC. Now revealed to be SKB-264, the therapy is currently being evaluated in a phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer and in phase 2 trials for non-small cell lung cancer and advanced solid tumors. 

Kelun has yet to share details of the newest ADC candidate picked up by Merck.