Merck and Sanofi-aventis have signed a worldwide research and development agreement, under which they will collaboratively investigate novel experimental combinations to treatment specific cancel cell pathways.

The combinations include several inhibitors belonging to the two companies, with both parties initially responsible for conducting a Phase I dose escalation study of the product candidates.

As part of the agreement, Sanofi-aventis will be granted a research and development licence for Merck’s MSC1936369B inhibitor, and Merck Serono will be given the same for Sanofi’s SAR245409 inhibitor in order to assess safety and initial clinical activity.

Merck Serono executive vice-president for oncology Dr Wolfgang Wein said, “It is a logical step to combine new exciting molecules across pipelines and companies early on, to explore combined activity against cancer pathways.”