The drug played a central role in Merck’s decision to acquire privately held OncoImmune, which had touted CD24Fc as its “lead compound.”
Merck plans on renaming the CD24Fc therapy MK-7110. (We recently profiled the compound in a feature on 11 notable COVID-19 therapies.)
The U.S. government agreed to pay $356 million to obtain 60,000 to 100,000 doses of MK-7110 from Merck through June 30, 2021, following EUA or FDA approval of the compound.
The company’s shares ticked up 1.1% to $80.28 today after Merck announced the deal.
Interim results from a Phase 3 Oncoimmune CD24Fc study concluded that hospitalized COVID-19 patients treated with a single 480-mg infusion dose of the compound were 60% more likely to show clinical improvement than the placebo group. The risk of death or respiratory failure in the treatment group was 50% lower.
An earlier Phase I study indicated that CD24Fc was effective at suppressing the expression of several inflammatory cytokines.
Merck sees therapeutics like MK-7110 playing a long-lasting role in fighting the pandemic. “Even with the best vaccines, we still see emergence of disease,” Merck Chief Marketing Officer Michael Nally said. “Therapeutics are going to have utility long into the future in this case,” he added.
To date, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 1.7 million people across the world.