Merck (NYSE: MRK) has announced the acquisition of Israeli biomed company cCAM Biotherapeutics for up to $605million. Based in Misgav in northern Israel, cCAM Biotherapeutics is a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel cancer immunotherapies.
Under terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding stock of cCAM in exchange for an upfront payment of $95 million in cash. cCAM shareholders are eligible to receive up to $510 million in performance payments for clinical development, regulatory and commercial milestones.
“We continue to strengthen our portfolio of immunotherapeutic candidates through strategic collaborations and acquisitions,” said Merck Research Laboratories president Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter. “The acquisition of cCAM supports our objective to advance the care of patients with cancer by stimulating tumor-directed immune responses.”
cCAM Biotherapeutics will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck and continue to advance the development of CM-24 in its ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial. cCam was originally established under the Israeli Office of Chief Scientist’s incubators program.
Founded in 2010 and led by Tehila Ben-Moshe, cCAM is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel immunotherapies to treat cancer. Its lead product, CM-24, is a first-in-class humanized anti-CEACAM1 monoclonal antibody undergoing Phase 1 clinical trials. CM-24 is based on the research of Professor Gal Markel, Head of Research, Ella Institute of Melanoma, at Sheba Academic Medical Center Hospital in Ramat Gan. The company's investors include Arkin Holdings, OrbiMed and Pontifax and cCAM has raised only $7.5 million to date.
The acquisition provides Merck with several early immunotherapy candidates including cCAM Biotherapeutics’ lead pipeline candidate, CM-24 a novel monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeting the immune checkpoint protein CEACAM1 that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 studyfor the treatment of advanced or recurrent malignancies, including melanoma, non-small-cell lung, bladder, gastric, colorectal, and ovarian cancers.
cCAM Biotherapeutics chairman and Arkin Holdings head of pharma Pini Orbach said, “Merck’s excellence and leadership in immuno-oncology provides a strong foundation for advancing CM-24, for the treatment of people with cancer. This is a significant achievement for cCAM Biotherapeutics, as well as a vote of confidence in the Israeli innovative biotech industry as a whole.”
CM-24 is a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against CEACAM1, an immune checkpoint protein belonging to the Human CEA (Carcino-Embryonic Antigen) protein family. Evidence has shown that CEACAM1 is expressed on tumor lymphocytes, and is up-regulated in several cancer types. Preclinical studies have shown evidence that CM-24 enhances the cytotoxic activity of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) against various CEACAM1-positive tumor cell lines. CM-24 is being developed for multiple oncological indications according to the expression pattern of its target protein.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 28, 2015
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