PharmaVentures is pleased to announce that it acted as exclusive advisor for Wellmarker Bio Co., Ltd (WMBIO) on its collaboration with MSD (Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA) to evaluate WM-A1-3389 in combination with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), MSD’s anti-PD-1 therapy.
Under the agreement with MSD, WMBIO will sponsor the Phase 1 (or Phase 1b) clinical trial for WM-A1-3389, a novel therapeutic antibody for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) patients with low or no PD-L1 expression, in combination with KEYTRUDA. Some NSCLC patients with low or no PD-L1 expression have shown limited response to treatment with immunotherapies and there is a high unmet need in these patient populations. WMBIO is also planning to expand the target patient group to other solid tumour indications.
Adrian Dawkes, Managing Director at PharmaVentures, said “We are pleased to have assisted WMBIO in establishing this collaboration with MSD. We have been working with Wellmarker Bio for some time now and it is gratifying to see this collaboration come to fruition. We look forward to helping Wellmarker with more partnerships as their pipeline progresses.”
Dong-Hoon Jin, CEO of Wellmarker Bio, said “This clinical trial collaboration with MSD holds great significance for WMBIO as it allows us to evaluate a first-in-class drug with a novel mechanism in combination with KEYTRUDA. We engaged PharmaVentures as our advisors for this collaboration and continue to work with them in partnering for WM-A1-3389.”
Fintan Walton, Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures, said “We are delighted to be supporting our client WMBIO in their collaboration with MSD. PharmaVentures has an extensive industry network and the specialist expertise to connect the Korean and Western Biopharma industries and vice versa, enabling them to collaborate through licensing and M&A deals.”
KEYTRUDA® is a registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme LLC, a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA.
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About Wellmarker Bio
Wellmarker Bio Co., Ltd (WMBIO) is the first company to be spun out from the renowned Asan Medical Center, Korea’s largest hospital. It focuses on the development of novel anticancer drugs derived from comprehensive biomarker analysis. Since it was founded in 2016, WMBIO has developed 9 first-in-class drugs for solid tumor indications. Having access to a wide array of patient samples from Asia and using predictive biomarkers to guide therapeutic development in innovative ways have allowed WMBIO to rapidly move its assets from exploratory to preclinical and then into early clinical stages. WMBIO’s R&D strategy is to focus mainly on drug discovery and early-stage development of lead compounds to build a deep and wide pipeline of products, with the most advanced assets in phase 1 clinical trials. Once a drug candidate is at that stage, WMBIO would seek to find global pharmaceutical companies to partner with for co-development or licensing.
WM-A1-3389 is a novel therapeutic antibody targeting a new immune checkpoint protein discovered by Wellmarker Bio. WM-A1-3389’s novel target is abundantly expressed in a variety of cancer types and has demonstrated efficacy across different PBMC humanized models. An additive benefit of WM-A1-3389 and anti-PD-1 antibody was evidenced in preclinical mouse models including PD-1-resistant CT26 and LLC-1 mouse models.