Merck ($MRK) has expanded the scope of its immune-oncology tie up with Eli Lilly ($LLY). The alliance has started a new study for assessing the combination of LARTRUVO (olaratumab) and KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in treatment-experienced patients with advanced/metastatic soft tissue sarcoma (STS).
LARTRUVO was approved by the FDA in October 2016, in combination with the chemo agent doxorubicin, for patients suffering from advanced STS who cannot be treated with radiotherapy or surgery. The treatment was also recently conditionally approved in Europe for the same patient population.
Under the terms of the agreement, Eli Lilly will sponsor the Phase 1 trial, which is expected to be commenced by mid-year. The collaboration is likely to reap benefits for Merck in the near future as it will help the company in reaping synergies of combining its immunotherapy efforts for developing cancer treatments.
Merck stock has gained nearly 17% in the past one year, although it has shown declining trend in the past one month. The new developments are likely to provide a fillip to the stock price. The stock is currently nearly 10 percent below its 52 weeks high of $65.46, thus offering a healthy potential upside to the investors.