Merck KGaA hands off its CAR-T R&D operations to Intrexon in $175M deal
Merck KGaA is bowing out of the CAR-T development business, handing over its rights to Intrexon $XON in exchange for $150 million batch of stock.
The German Merck is characterizing the move as an R&D simplification process, staying focused where they believe they can make the most progress. And the deal comes three years after the two companies allied on CAR-T, with Intrexon contributing its tech — including Sleeping Beauty — for the preclinical work underway.
Merck KGaA is also investing $25 million in Intrexon, picking up a convertible note for stock in either Intrexon or its subsidiary Precigen.
Merck KGaA allied with Pfizer on the PD-L1 checkpoint Bavencio (avelumab), where they joined the first group of new therapies after Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb pioneered the field. But the German Merck never made much of an impression in CAR-T, where Novartis and Kite — now owned by Gilead — are out front.
Much of the focus in this field has now turned to off-the-shelf CAR-T, where Allogene has been making its mark in early clinical work.