Hermes Biosciences has been acquired by Merrimack Pharmaceuticals in a deal which aims to combine the companies’ drug discovery and delivery platforms to develop cancer treatments.
Following completion of the deal Merrimack will incorporate Hermes into its operations, giving it access to drug delivery technologies which use lipidic nano-carriers and antibodies to target specific areas.
The deal nets Merrimack a nanoliposomal formulation of CPT-11 that is currently in Phase II and an antibody-targeting lipidic nano-carrier for cancer therapy, which is expected to enter clinical trials in 2010. However, it is the combination of technologies which may prove most fruitful.
John Park, CEO of Hermes, explained “that coupling Merrimack’s approach of identifying critical targets through systems analysis with our innovative drug delivery technologies creates great potential to generate truly novel therapies that can provide significant benefit to cancer patients”.
Hermes has developed SMART (stabilised, modularly-assembled, receptor-targeted) Immunoliposome technology which uses antibody-guided liposomes to target cell surface receptors.
By conducting in vitro and in vivo tests Hermes claims to have demonstrated the technology can deliver a therapeutic into the target cell. Hermes believes this makes it “a powerful platform technology” with applications in treating breast and prostate cancer.
Merrimack will use this in conjunction with its network biology platform which uses techniques from computational modeling, high throughput biology and engineering to understand cell system dynamics.
This creates biochemical models that Merrimack uses to decide which the best target is, if there is signal amplification or attenuation that may affect drug potency and how heterogeneity may impact on the therapeutics efficacy.
Using this platform Merrimack has developed two candidates, an ErbB3 antagonist and bispecific antibody targeting ErbB2 and ErbB3, both of which are in Phase I. Merrimack expects the candidates to progress to Phase II in 2010.