Surface Oncology and Merck to Collaborate on Immuno-Oncology Study Evaluating SRF617, Targeting CD39 in Combination with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Solid Tumor Patients

CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA I May 20, 2020 ISurface Oncology (Nasdaq: SURF), a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company developing next-generation immunotherapies that target the tumor microenvironment, announced today it has entered into a clinical trial collaboration with Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through a subsidiary, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of combining Surface’s SRF617, an investigational antibody therapy targeting CD39, with Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), the first anti-PD-1 therapy approved in the United States. This combination will be studied as a component of the first-in-human Phase 1/1b study of SRF617 and will be evaluated in patients with solid tumors, with a focus on patients with gastric cancer and those who have developed resistance to checkpoint inhibition — both areas of high unmet need. 

SRF617 inhibits CD39, an enzyme critical both to the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the production of adenosine. A substantial body of research supports a role for CD39 in allowing cancer to evade immune responses. For example, in gastric cancer, immune cells within the tumor often express high levels of CD39, which may impair an overall anti-cancer immune response even in the presence of an anti-PD-1 antibody. The combination of SRF617 and KEYTRUDA has the potential to overcome this barrier to immune system activation and promote anti-tumor immunity.

“Surface is committed to delivering truly breakthrough therapies that can transform treatment for people with cancer. This collaboration with Merck will add an important dimension to our clinical program for SRF617, and allow us to more rapidly assess its potential,” said Robert Ross, M.D., chief medical officer at Surface Oncology. “We have demonstrated in preclinical studies that the inhibition of CD39 results in substantial activation of both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Encouragingly, we also found that activation is heightened in combination with anti-PD-1 treatment and that this combinatory approach has the potential to overcome anti-PD-1 resistance.”

KEYTRUDA® is a registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.

About Surface Oncology:
Surface Oncology is an immuno-oncology company developing next-generation antibody therapies focused on the tumor microenvironment. Its pipeline includes two wholly-owned lead programs targeting CD39 (SRF617) and IL-27 (SRF388), a clinical-stage collaboration with Novartis targeting CD73 (NZV930), and two preclinical programs, each focused primarily on activating natural killer cells (via targeting CD112R) or depleting regulatory T cells (via targeting CCR8). Surface’s novel cancer immunotherapies are designed to achieve a clinically meaningful and sustained anti-tumor response and may be used alone or in combination with other therapies. For more information, please visit www.surfaceoncology.com.

SOURCE: Surface Oncology

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