MorphoSys and Merck Serono Enter Strategic Immuno-Oncology Collaboration

June 12, 2014 / 7:30 am, CEST

  • Co-development and license agreement that complements and further expands Merck Serono's immuno-oncology portfolio
  • MorphoSys' Ylanthia next-generation antibody technology to be leveraged for the rapid identification of inhibitors against immune checkpoints

MorphoSys AG (FSE: MOR; Prime Standard Segment, TecDAX, OTC: MPSYY) and Merck today announced that they have signed an agreement to discover and develop therapeutic antibodies against undisclosed immune checkpoints.

Under the terms of the agreement, MorphoSys and Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, will join forces to develop therapies that modulate the immune system's natural ability to fight tumors. MorphoSys, a leader in fully human antibody technologies, will apply its proprietary Ylanthia® antibody phage library and technology platform to identify antibodies against the targets of interest. Merck Serono with its strong portfolio and capabilities in the field of immuno-oncology and clinical development will be fully responsible for execution of development from Phase 1 onwards.

"The establishment of partnerships with companies with innovative technology platforms is an integral part of Merck Serono's strategy to further expand upon our already diverse immuno-oncology portfolio," said Dr. Helen Sabzevari, Senior VP of Immuno-Oncology at Merck Serono. "Combining Merck Serono's extensive expertise in immuno-oncology with MorphoSys's next-generation antibody technology provides us with an exciting opportunity to rapidly generate novel therapies with a clear potential to benefit cancer patients."

"Therapeutic agents in the immuno-oncology field are set to transform cancer therapy, and we are delighted to work with Merck Serono in this area", commented Dr. Simon Moroney, Chief Executive Officer of MorphoSys. "We believe that our Ylanthia technology has the potential to provide truly differentiated antibodies against the targets that will be the subject of the collaboration. Merck Serono's expertise in immuno-oncology, together with their strength in developing and commercializing therapeutic antibodies make them an ideal partner for MorphoSys."

With this partnership, Merck Serono, is committed to strengthen its existing portfolio of cancer immunotherapies that work as monotherapies or in combination with other therapeutic modalities. The company's immuno-oncology pipeline assets currently investigated in clinical trials span from Phase 1 to Phase 3 for the treatment of different cancer types, including tecemotide, a MUC1 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapy, the two immunocytokines NHS-IL2 (MSB0010445) and NHS-IL12 (MSB0010360), and the monoclonal antibody anti-PD-L1 (MSB0010718C). Beyond this, Merck Serono has built a robust pre-clinical pipeline in the three innovation clusters therapeutic cancer vaccines, cancer stem cells, and tumor immunotolerance.

Under the terms of the co-development and license agreement, MorphoSys will co-fund research & development costs with the option to opt-out at predefined stages. MorphoSys will be eligible to receive development and commercial milestone payments, and in addition, tiered royalties on product sales that will reflect the extent of MorphoSys co-funding. Merck Serono will have sole responsibility for commercializing of any resulting products. Further financial details are not being disclosed.

About MorphoSys:
MorphoSys developed HuCAL, the most successful antibody library technology in the pharmaceutical industry. By successfully applying this and other patented technologies, MorphoSys has become a leader in the field of therapeutic antibodies, one of the fastest-growing drug classes in human healthcare.
Together with its pharmaceutical partners, MorphoSys has built a therapeutic pipeline of more than 80 human antibody drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease, to name just a few. With its ongoing commitment to new antibody technology and drug development, MorphoSys is focused on making the healthcare products of tomorrow. MorphoSys is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol MOR. For regular updates about MorphoSys, visit

HuCAL®, HuCAL GOLD®, HuCAL PLATINUM®, CysDisplay®, RapMAT®, arYla® and Ylanthia® and 100 billion high potentials® are registered trademarks of MorphoSys AG.
Slonomics® is a registered trademark of Sloning BioTechnology GmbH, a subsidiary of MorphoSys AG.

About Merck Serono
Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.

For more information, please visit

Merck is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors. With its four divisions Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Performance Materials and Merck Millipore, Merck generated total revenues of € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 38,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company - since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70 percent interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as EMD.

Clinical candidates are currently under clinical investigation and have not been approved for use in the U.S., Europe, Canada, or elsewhere. These candidates have not been proven to be either safe or effective and any claims of safety and effectiveness can be made only after regulatory review of the data and approval of the labeled claims.

This communication contains certain forward-looking statements concerning the MorphoSys group of companies. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgment of MorphoSys as of the date of this release and involve risks and uncertainties. Should actual conditions differ from the Company's assumptions, actual results and actions may differ from those anticipated. MorphoSys does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements as far as the wording of the relevant press release is concerned.


For more information, please contact:
MorphoSys AG
Dr. Claudia Gutjahr-Löser
Head of Corporate Communications & IR

Mario Brkulj
Associate Director Corporate Communications & IR

Alexandra Goller
Specialist Corporate Communications & IR

Jessica Rush
Specialist Corporate Communications & IR

Tel: +49 (0) 89 / 899 27-404

Merck Serono
Dr. Andrea Marquart
Tel. +49 6151 72-6517