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Merck and Pfizer partner with Dako to develop companion diagnostic test for avelumab

Merck and Pfizer have collaborated with Agilent Technologies firm Dako to develop a potential companion diagnostic test (CDx) for an investigational immune checkpoint inhibitor avelumab.


Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The three-party agreement has been signed to develop the CDx to evaluate programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) protein expression levels in tumor tissue and its microenvironment, including tumor-associated immune cells.

Avelumab is said to be the proposed International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for the anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody (MSB0010718C).

Currently, avelumab is under clinical investigation and was not approved for use in the US, EU, Canada or in any part of the world.

Avelumab is believed to have the potential to enable the activation of T cells and the adaptive immune system, by inhibiting PD-L1 interactions.

It is considered to engage the innate immune system and induce antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) through retaining a native Fc-region.

In November 2014, Merck and Pfizer partnered to co-develop and co-commercialize avelumab.

In May 2014, Dako collaborated with Merck to develop a companion diagnostic test for the analysis of the potential tumor biomarker PD-L1 to assist in the treatment of cancer.

Image: Merck and Pfizer have collaborated with Agilent Technologies firm Dako to develop a companion diagnostic test. Photo: courtesy of Suwit Ritjaroon/