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8 September 2017Americas

Merck to acquire immuno-oncology firm for $137m

Merck has revealed plans to boost its immune-oncology expertise with the acquisition of Germany-based Rigontec.

Announced yesterday, the deal will see Merck pay €115 million ($137 million) to Rigontec’s shareholders.

Merck may also make an additional contingent payment of up to €349 million ($421 million).

Rigontec was founded in 2014 as a spin-off out of the University of Bonn, Germany.

According to Merck, Rigontec has pioneered “accessing the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway, part of the innate immune system, as a novel and distinct approach in cancer immunotherapy to induce both immediate and long-term anti-tumour immunity”.

The German company has raised near to €30 million from life sciences investors such as the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Forbion Capital Partners.

Eric Rubin, vice president of early-stage development at Merck Research Laboratories, said: “Rigontec’s immuno-oncology approach of engaging the innate immune system to safely eliminate cancer cells complements our strategy and our current pipeline.

“We are eager to build upon Rigontec’s science as we continue our efforts in bringing forward meaningful advances for patients with cancer.”

Christian Schetter, CEO of Rigontec, added: “We are confident that our programs will be in the best hands and that the team at Merck will continue the work we established with our scientific founders and brought into the clinic within three years since our foundation as a company.”

In April this year, Merck announced plans to divest its biosimilars business to Fresenius Kabi in order to focus on innovative drugs.

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