Merus Announces Collaborations with Nationwide Medical Organizations in the Netherlands and Japan to Enhance Screening and Identification of Cancer Patients with NRG1 Fusion Tumors and to Raise Awareness of the eNRGy Clinical Trial
UTRECHT, The Netherlands, and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Merus N.V. (Nasdaq: MRUS), a clinical-stage oncology company developing innovative, full-length multispecific antibodies (Biclonics® and Triclonics™), today announced collaborations with nationwide medical organizations in the Netherlands and Japan to raise awareness of the eNRGy trial and to provide molecular screening opportunities for patients with cancers that may have neuregulin 1 (NRG1) fusions. In the collaborations, Merus has agreed to support access to next generation sequencing for eligible patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma in the Netherlands, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in Japan, aimed to identify the presence of NRG1 fusions and raise awareness of potential paths to enrollment in Merus’ Phase 1/2 eNRGy trial of bispecific antibody zenocutuzumab (Zeno). The collaborating organizations in the two countries are:
- Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam (Erasmus MC) in the Netherlands has agreed to perform a nationwide campaign, in affiliation with the Dutch Pancreatic Cancer Group (DPCG), to raise awareness of next generation genome screening offered by Merus for eligible patients with a diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma at all 17 pancreatic cancer centers in the Netherlands, and availability of the eNRGy trial for eligible patients. Erasmus MC, based in Rotterdam, is the largest University Medical Center in the Netherlands and is devoted to providing outstanding care, facilitating world-class education and conducting pioneering research.
- National Cancer Center (NCC) Japan has agreed to provide RNA sequencing, funded in part by Merus, for eligible patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma and patients with NSCLC to identify NRG1 fusions. Patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma will be directed to the SCRUM-Japan GI-SCREEN program. Patients with NSCLC will be directed to the LC-SCRUM-Asia program. Both programs are part of an Asian genome screening platform operating within institutions participating in the GI-SCREEN and LC-SCRUM-Asia programs, including the NCC Hospital East (NCCHE) and approximately 215 other institutions in Japan, to identify patients with targetable gene alterations for the development of novel targeted therapies. NCC Japan, established in 1962, is a leading medical institution in cancer treatment and research in Japan. NCCHE, established in 1992, is one of the leading specialized cancer hospitals in Japan, treating over 9,000 new patients each year. NCCHE has been promoting the development of innovative cancer medicines and medical devices, including first-in-human trials of new cancer medicines and investigator-initiated trials.
“Merus is supporting a broad molecular screening effort for patients who are not routinely screened for gene mutations,” said Dr. Andrew Joe, Chief Medical Officer of Merus. “Partnering with prestigious academic institutions and national cooperative groups of investigators dedicated to the treatment of cancer is a strategic effort we are undertaking as we seek to advance enrollment in our eNRGy clinical trial to explore the potential for Zeno to become a compelling new treatment option for cancer patients with NRG1 fusions.”
About the eNRGy Clinical Trial
Merus is currently enrolling patients in the Phase 1/2 eNRGy trial to assess the safety and anti-tumor activity of Zeno monotherapy in NRG1+ cancers. The eNRGy trial consists of three cohorts: NRG1+ pancreatic cancer; NRG1+ non-small cell lung cancer; and NRG1+ other solid tumors. Further details, including current trial sites, can be found at www.ClinicalTrials.gov and Merus’ trial website at www.nrg1.com or by calling 1-833-NRG-1234.
About NRG1 Fusions
The NRG1 gene encodes neuregulin (also known as heregulin), the ligand for HER3. Fusions between NRG1 and partner genes are rare, tumorigenic genomic events occurring in patients with certain cancers.
Zeno is an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC)-enhanced Biclonics® that utilizes the Merus Dock & Block® mechanism to inhibit the neuregulin/HER3 tumor-signaling pathway in solid tumors. Through its unique mechanism of binding to HER2 and potently blocking the interaction of HER3 with its ligand NRG1 or NRG1-fusion proteins, Zeno has the potential to be particularly effective against NRG1+ cancers. In preclinical studies, Zeno also potently inhibits HER2/HER3 heterodimer formation and tumor growth in models harboring NRG1 fusions.
Learn more about Zeno Dock & Block® at https://merus.nl/technology/.
Merus is a clinical-stage oncology company developing innovative full-length human bispecific and trispecific antibody therapeutics, referred to as Multiclonics®. Multiclonics® are manufactured using industry standard processes and have been observed in preclinical and clinical studies to have several of the same features of conventional human monoclonal antibodies, such as long half-life and low immunogenicity. For additional information, please visit Merus’ website, www.merus.nl and https://twitter.com/MerusNV.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including without limitation, statements regarding the potential of collaborations with Erasmus MC and NCC to raise awareness of the eNRGy trial and to provide molecular screening opportunities for patients with cancers that may have NRG1 fusions; the aim of identifying the presence of NRG1 fusions and potential paths to enrollment in Merus’ Phase 1/2 eNRGy trial; any results from the strategic effort Merus is undertaking through these agreements to seek to advance enrollment in our eNRGy clinical trial to explore the potential of Zeno to become a compelling new treatment option for cancer patients with NRG1 fusions. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the following: our need for additional funding, which may not be available and which may require us to restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or antibody candidates; potential delays in regulatory approval, which would impact our ability to commercialize our product candidates and affect our ability to generate revenue; the lengthy and expensive process of clinical drug development, which has an uncertain outcome; the unpredictable nature of our early stage development efforts for marketable drugs; potential delays in enrollment of patients, which could affect the receipt of necessary regulatory approvals; our reliance on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and the potential for those third parties to not perform satisfactorily; impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; we may not identify suitable Biclonics® or bispecific antibody candidates under our collaborations or our collaborators may fail to perform adequately under our collaborations; our reliance on third parties to manufacture our product candidates, which may delay, prevent or impair our development and commercialization efforts; protection of our proprietary technology; our patents may be found invalid, unenforceable, circumvented by competitors and our patent applications may be found not to comply with the rules and regulations of patentability; we may fail to prevail in potential lawsuits for infringement of third-party intellectual property; and our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks.
These and other important factors discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended September 30, 2020 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, on November 5, 2020, and our other reports filed with the SEC, could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change, except as required under applicable law. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release.
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