Merus and IRB to develop novel agents to target tumour microenvironment


Netherlands-based immuno-oncology company Merus and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona have collaborated to jointly develop novel agents that target the tumour microenvironment.

Under the research collaboration, Merus’ Biclonics technology platform for the discovery and development of therapeutic bispecific antibodies will be combined with IRB’s cell and animal models to evaluate therapeutic targeting of stromal cells.

Merus chief scientific officer Mark Throsby said: “This new research collaboration builds on the successful working relationship established in the suppresSTEM consortium that resulted in MCLA-158, a Biclonics targeting EGFR and Lgr5 that is currently in IND-enabling studies.

“We anticipate that accessing IRB’s insights and tools to investigate the tumour stromal environment will support the discovery and validation of Biclonics that block the initiation and progression of metastatic cancer.”

"We are optimistic that this partnership will streamline the generation of differentiated therapeutics to treat patients with difficult-to-treat cancer subtypes."

Founded in October 2005 by the Government of Catalonia and the University of Barcelona, the IRB research centre is devoted to understanding fundamental questions about human health and disease. It is located at the Barcelona Science Park.

IRB professor and group leader Eduardo Battle said: "Merus’ Biclonics technology represents a promising platform to develop bispecific antibodies to specifically target the tumour stroma.

“We are optimistic that this partnership will streamline the generation of differentiated therapeutics to treat patients with difficult-to-treat cancer subtypes.”

Merus develops human bispecific antibody therapeutics known as Biclonics, based on the full-length IgG format.