That $95M Mer­ck gam­ble to ac­quire cCAM? It didn’t pay off.

When Mer­ck $MRK ac­quired cCAM Bio­ther­a­peu­tics in Is­rael in the sum­mer of 2015, R&D chief Roger Perl­mut­ter and his crew were in­trigued by the po­ten­tial of its lead drug, CM-24, in tar­get­ing the im­mune check­point pro­tein CEA­CAM1. The drug, in Phase I, of­fered an op­por­tu­ni­ty for a range of can­cers where the phar­ma gi­ant has been close­ly fo­cused.

In Perl­mut­ter’s words, the drug hit a sweet spot for the de­vel­op­er of Keytru­da: “stim­u­lat­ing tu­mor-di­rect­ed im­mune re­spons­es.”

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