Merck has reached an agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of US-based late-stage immunotherapy firm Immune Design in an all cash deal valued at approximately $300m, or $5.85 per share.
Immune Design is engaged in developing immunotherapies by using in-vivo techniques that trigger the body’s immune system to fight disease.
The company devised GLAAS and ZVex technologies to stimulate the immune system’s natural ability to produce and boost antigen-specific cytotoxic immune cells against cancer and other chronic diseases.
Merck expects the acquisition to support its ongoing efforts to leverage the immune system for the prevention and treatment diseases.
Merck Research Laboratories president Roger Perlmutter said: “Scientists at Immune Design have established a unique portfolio of approaches to cancer immunisation and adjuvant systems designed to enhance the ability of a vaccine to protect against infection, which could meaningfully improve vaccine development.
“This acquisition builds upon Merck’s industry-leading programmes that harness the power of the immune system to prevent and treat disease.”
Immune Design pipeline includes candidates across immune-oncology, infectious and allergic diseases.
The company’s lead product candidate G100 is a potent intratumoral TLR4 agonist designed to use a range of endogenous antigens to generate a systemic anti-tumour immune response. It is indicated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The drug candidate has been evaluated in various clinical trials, including in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda.
Immune Design CEO and president Carlos Paya said: “Merck has a rich history of discovery and innovation and a strong track record of developing meaningful therapeutics and vaccines.
“We believe this agreement creates shareholder value by positioning our technologies and capabilities for long-term success with a leading, research-driven biopharmaceutical company.”
Merck will carry out the acquisition through one of its subsidiaries. The deal is subject to customary conditions and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.