MSD (trademark of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, NYSE: MRK), today announced the completion of the acquisition of Themis, a privately-held company focused on vaccines and immune-modulation therapies for infectious diseases and cancer. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has granted early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and MSD has received merger control clearance from the Austrian Federal Competition Authority. Themis is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of MSD.
An initial focus of this agreement is acceleration of the development of a measles vector-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate. This candidate is currently in pre-clinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020.
Themis developed a broad pipeline of vaccine candidates and immune-modulatory therapies using its innovative measles virus vector platform based on a vector originally developed by scientists at the Institut Pasteur, a world-leading European vaccine research institute, and licensed exclusively to Themis for select viral indications. In March, Themis joined a consortium together with the Institut Pasteur and The Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to develop a vaccine candidate targeting SARS-CoV-2 for the prevention of COVID-19.
Measles Vector Platform
The measles vector platform is being evaluated across a wide range of infectious disease and immunology indications. It uses a modified measles vaccine virus as a vector and can be engineered to express a wide range of antigens. The measles vector is designed to provide a vehicle to deliver antigens to the immune system capable of triggering a protective memory response. It has been incorporated into vaccine development programs against infectious diseases including SARS, Chikungunya, MERS, and Lassa fever. Originally developed at the Institut Pasteur, the technology platform was first licensed to Themis in 2010.
MSD’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
As a company dedicated to saving and improving lives, MSD recognizes that we have a special responsibility to help. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MSD is focused on protecting the safety of its employees and their families, ensuring that our supply of medicines and vaccines reaches our patients and customers, contributing our scientific expertise to the development of antiviral and vaccine approaches, and supporting health care providers and our communities. We thank the many health care providers and volunteers, including our own employees, who are doing so much to help affected patients and communities.
For more than 125 years, MSD has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals — including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases — as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.msd.com and connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.