Aduro Biotech announced that the company earned a $3.0 million development milestone payment under its worldwide licensing agreement with Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) for the initiation of a Phase I clinical trial of its anti-CD27 antibody. The Phase 1 trial is designed to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of the anti-CD27 antibody when administered alone and in combination with pembrolizumab in adults with advanced solid tumors.

“We are pleased with the strong progress Merck has made in the development of our anti-CD27 antibody,” stated Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D., executive vice president of antibody research and site head, Aduro Biotech Europe. “This marks an important step forward in the advancement of our proprietary B-select monoclonal antibody technology, as the second antibody to enter the clinic.”

About CD27 and Aduro’s Anti-CD27 Antibody

CD27 is a co-stimulatory receptor expressed on different immune cells, such as T-lymphocytes and NK (natural killer) cells. It has been recognized as having an important role in priming, enhancing and sustaining a productive anti-cancer (CD8 T-cell) adaptive immune response. In preclinical studies, anti-CD27 activation was shown to enhance T-cell response, which in combination with immune checkpoint inhibition demonstrated the ability to achieve complete tumor eradication.

In 2014, Merck, through certain affiliates, entered into a worldwide license agreement for the development and commercialization of CD27 antibody agonists. Aduro’s anti-CD27 antibody, which was identified with its proprietary B-select monoclonal antibody technology, targets a functional epitope on CD27 demonstrating potent activation of the CD27 co-stimulatory pathway in pre-clinical studies. As a part of the worldwide license agreement, and in addition to payments received, including the $15 million up-front payment, Aduro is eligible to receive future development, commercial and net sales milestone payments. In addition, Aduro is eligible to receive royalties in the mid-single digits to low teens based on any net sales of the product, if it is approved for marketing.