Janux Therapeutics Announces Collaboration with Merck to Develop Novel Drug Candidates for Immuno-Oncology using T-Cell Engager (TRACTr) Technology

IndustryPRwire – Janux Therapeutics announced a strategic collaboration and license agreement with Merck known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to discover, develop and commercialize innovative, next generation T cell engager immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. The goal of the collaboration is to use Janux’s proprietary Tumor Activated T Cell Engager (TRACTrTM) technology to engineer novel, T-cell engager drug candidates directed against two cancer targets selected by Merck. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has received an exclusive worldwide license to products and intellectual property developed from this collaboration. In exchange, Janux will be eligible to earn up to $500.5 million per target in upfront and milestone payments plus royalties on sales of any product derived from the collaboration. Merck will fund research and development performed under the collaboration.

T cell engagers are an emerging class of immunotherapies that bind to a tumor cell and recruit a patient’s T cells to eradicate tumor cells, but previous technologies have been constrained by dose-limiting toxicities, poor pharmacokinetic profiles, and attenuated efficacy. Janux’s proprietary TRACTr technology is designed to overcome these limitations by integrating tumor-specific activation with crossover pharmacokinetics to produce best-in-class T cell engager therapeutics. In preclinical studies, Janux TRACTr drug candidates have demonstrated comparable anti-tumor efficacy relative to standard T cell engagers but lack the associated liabilities related to cytokine release, healthy tissue toxicities, or systemic immune activation. 

David Campbell, Ph.D., President and CEO of Janux Therapeutics Commented “At Janux, we have developed a technology to engineer best-in-class T cell engagers that are potent and highly tumor specific, which is essential for an immune response that kills tumor cells but spares healthy tissue, Partnering with Merck, a world leader in immuno-oncology, provides us with important expertise and resources in developing next generation T cell engager therapies that will make immunotherapy work for more cancer patients.”

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