Wellmarker Bio enters clinical trial partnership with MSD to evaluate WM-A1-3389 in combo with Keytruda

By: India Pharma Outlook Team | Thursday, 09 February 2023

 India Pharma Outlook Team
Wellmarker Bio Co., Ltd (WMBIO), a predictive biomarker-driven biotech company, has entered a clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with MSD (Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA).

Under the agreement, WMBIO will sponsor the phase 1 (or phase 1b) clinical trial for WM-A1-3389, a novel therapeutic antibody for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with low or no PD-L1 expression, in combination with Keytruda (pembrolizumab), MSD's anti-PD-1 therapy. Some NSCLC patients with low or no PD-L1 expression have shown limited response to treatment with immunotherapies alone and there is a high unmet need in these patient populations. WMBIO is also planning to expand the target patient group to other solid tumour indications.

WM-A1-3389 is a novel therapeutic antibody targeting a new immune checkpoint protein discovered by Wellmarker Bio and has demonstrated efficacy across different PBMC humanized models. An additive benefit of WM-A1-3389 and anti-PD-1 antibody was evidenced in preclinical mouse models including PD-1-resistant CT26 and LLC-1 mouse models.

"This clinical trial collaboration with MSD holds great significance for WMBIO as it allows us to evaluate a first-in-class drug with a novel mechanism in combination with Keytruda," said Dong-Hoon Jin, CEO of Wellmarker Bio. "Now that we have seen WM-A1-3389 demonstrates a favourable safety margin in combination with immunotherapies in preclinical studies, we are excited to collaborate with MSD to further investigate the therapeutic potential of an additive benefit when combining WM-A1-3389 with Keytruda."

WM-A1-3389 development was funded by Korea Drug Development Fund (KDDF). In early 2022, this study was selected by the follow-up project of Korea Drug Development Fund (KDDF) in the preclinical stage. In addition, Wellmarker Bio is co-developing liquid biopsy companion diagnostics (CDx) with Cytogen. PharmaVentures Ltd., a UK-based premier transaction advisory firm, acted as the exclusive advisor for this collaboration and the ongoing partnering efforts for WM-A1-3389.

WM-A1-3389 is a novel therapeutic antibody targeting a new immune checkpoint protein discovered by Wellmarker Bio. WM-A1-3389's novel target is abundantly expressed in a variety of cancer types and has demonstrated efficacy across different PBMC humanized models. An additive benefit of WM-A1-3389 and anti-PD-1 antibody was evidenced in preclinical mouse models including PD-1-resistant CT26 and LLC-1 mouse models.

Keytruda is a registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme LLC, a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA.

Wellmarker Bio Co., Ltd (WMBIO) is the first company to be spun out from the renowned Asan Medical Center, Korea's largest hospital. It focuses on the development of novel anticancer drugs derived from comprehensive biomarker analysis.

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