The product candidates in the Merus pipeline are based on the Biclonics® format (full length human IgG antibodies). Our strategy employs the unique attributes of our proprietary bispecific antibodies and our patented screening technologies to engage and harness the power of the immune system to kill tumor cells.
MCLA-128 is an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC)-enhanced Biclonics® that targets the HER3 pathway. The bispecific antibody docks on HER2, abundantly expressed on tumor cells, and subsequently efficiently blocks heregulin-stimulated growth of tumor cells by binding to HER3. MCLA-128 is designed to overcome the inherent and acquired resistance of tumor cells to HER2-targeted therapies using two mechanisms: 1) blocking growth and survival pathways to stop tumor expansion and 2) recruitment and enhancement of immune effector cells to eliminate the tumor.
About NRG1 fusions: The NRG1 gene encodes for neuregulin (also known as heregulin), the ligand to HER3. Fusions between NRG1 and partner genes are rare, tumorigenic genomic events occurring in patients with certain lung and other cancers, associated with activation of HER2/HER3 heterodimers and growth of cancer cells. In preclinical studies, Merus has observed that MCLA-128 is capable of potent inhibition of heregulin-driven HER2/HER3 heterodimer formation, resulting in blocking of tumor cell growth in models harboring NRG1 fusions.
MCLA-117 is a Biclonics® that binds to CD3, a cell-surface molecule present on all T cells, and CLEC12A, a cell surface molecule present on Acute Myleoid Leukemia (AML) cells and stem cells. MCLA-117 is designed to recruit and activate T-cells to kill CLEC12A-expressing AML tumor cells and stem cells, which may prevent recurrence of the tumor.
MCLA-158 is an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC)-enhanced Biclonics® for the treatment of solid tumors, including the potential treatment of colorectal cancer, that binds to cancer stem cells expressing leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 (Lgr5) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). MCLA-158 is designed to use two different mechanisms of action. The first blocks growth and survival pathways in cancer stem cells. The second involves the recruitment and enhancement of immune effector cells to directly kill cancer stem cells that persist in solid tumors and cause relapse and metastasis.
MCLA-145 is a Biclonics® T-cell agonist discovered through an unbiased functional screening of multiple immunomodulatory target combinations. MCLA-145 binds with high affinity and specificity to human PD-L1 and CD137 in preclinical models. The unique immunostimulatory profile of MCLA-145 derives from the ability to potently activate immune effector cells in the context of the tumor microenvironment while simultaneously blocking inhibitory signals in the same immune cell population
MCLA-129 is a Biclonics® binding to EGFR and c-MET for the treatment of solid tumors. EGFR is an important oncogenic driver in many cancers; the upregulation of c-MET signaling has been associated with resistance to EGFR inhibition. MCLA-129 has two distinct mechanisms of action. First, Merus’ Dock & Block® mechanism of action blocks the signaling of EGFR as well as c-MET, with the potential to inhibit tumor growth and survival. Second, MCLA-129 utilizes GlymaxX® antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC)-enhancement technology designed for greater cell-killing potential. Because the Dock & Block® and ADCC mechanism of action is based on the co-expression of EGFR and c-MET, it is expected to have less toxicity compared to agents targeting EGFR alone.
This information reflects public disclosures current as of January 9, 2020. Merus’ product candidates pipeline will change over time as molecules move through the drug development process, including potentially progressing to market or failing in clinical trials, due to the nature of the development process. This description contains forward-looking statements that involve significant risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in Merus’ most recent Form 20-F and in Merus’ other periodic reports filed with the SEC, and actual results may vary materially. Merus provides this information as of the date above and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained on these tables as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.