Merck Acquires Harpoon Therapeutics for $680 Million to Bolster Oncology Pipeline

January 8, 2024

Merck has agreed to acquire Harpoon Therapeutics for $680 million, significantly enhancing its cancer treatment portfolio with innovative T-cell engagers. This acquisition, at a 100% premium over Harpoon’s last stock price, particularly highlights Harpoon’s lead project, HPN328. This T cell engager targets DLL3, which is prevalent in specific cancers and is undergoing Phase I/II trials, including tests with Roche’s Tecentriq.

Merck has been diversifying its oncology portfolio due to the impending patent expiration of its successful drug, Keytruda, in 2028. Recent efforts include a $4 billion investment in antibody-drug conjugates from Daiichi Sankyo and collaborations focusing on small molecules and antibody-degrader conjugates. At a recent conference, Merck’s CEO, Rob Davis, emphasized the importance of broadening their approach in oncology.

Harpoon, established in 2015, focuses on T cell-inciting cancer treatments. Despite some challenges and a terminated collaboration with AbbVie, Harpoon’s promising candidates, including the Phase I HPN217 program, will now be part of Merck’s expanding oncology strategy.

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[Source: Endpoints, January 8th, 2023]

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