SAN DIEGO, December 18, 2020 – Janux Therapeutics, today announced a strategic collaboration and license agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to discover, develop and commercialize innovative, next generation T cell engager immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. The goal of the collaboration is to use Janux’s proprietary Tumor Activated T Cell Engager (TRACTrTM) technology to engineer novel, T-cell engager drug candidates directed against two cancer targets selected by Merck. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has received an exclusive worldwide license to products and intellectual property developed from this collaboration. In exchange, Janux will be eligible to earn up to $500.5 million per target in upfront and milestone payments plus royalties on sales of any product derived from the collaboration. Merck will fund research and development performed under the collaboration.
T cell engagers are an emerging class of immunotherapies that bind to a tumor cell and recruit a patient’s T cells to eradicate tumor cells, but previous technologies have been constrained by dose-limiting toxicities, poor pharmacokinetic profiles, and attenuated efficacy. Janux’s proprietary TRACTr technology is designed to overcome these limitations by integrating tumor-specific activation with crossover pharmacokinetics to produce best-in-class T cell engager therapeutics. In preclinical studies, Janux TRACTr drug candidates have demonstrated comparable anti-tumor efficacy relative to standard T cell engagers but lack the associated liabilities related to cytokine release, healthy tissue toxicities, or systemic immune activation.
“At Janux, we have developed a technology to engineer best-in-class T cell engagers that are potent and highly tumor specific, which is essential for an immune response that kills tumor cells but spares healthy tissue,” said David Campbell, Ph.D., President and CEO of Janux Therapeutics. “Partnering with Merck, a world leader in immuno-oncology, provides us with important expertise and resources in developing next generation T cell engager therapies that will make immunotherapy work for more cancer patients.”
About Janux Therapeutics
Janux Therapeutics is developing safe, effective novel immunotherapies with the company’s proprietary TRACTr technology. Janux’s TRACTr technology employs a modular design to rapidly engineer drug candidates against specific targets. The Janux TRACTr development pipeline targets multiple solid tumor indications, including colorectal, gastroesophageal, prostrate, NSCLC, triple negative breast, and ovarian cancers. Janux technology can be applied to immunotherapies that target all three stages of an anti-tumor immune response. Combining Janux’s tumor-specific activation with multi-stage anti-tumor signaling has the potential to significantly improve safety, expand the therapeutic dosing window, and maximize patient responses. Janux was founded in the Avalon Ventures accelerator, COI Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in San Diego. For more information, visit www.januxrx.com.
Jessica Yingling, Ph.D.
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