OREANDA-NEWS. Merck, a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials, today gave an update on key immuno-oncology and oncology research and development projects, illustrating visible progress across all pipeline stages.

Among others, the company announced that it started investigating a novel, potential first-in-class bi-functional immunotherapy in clinical trials with the potential to offer an alternative therapy to anti-PD-1/anti-PD-L1 and other immunotherapies. Merck also showed good progress in its avelumab development program, which it is driving together with Pfizer. If successful, the companies expect the first potential commercial launch for avelumab in 2017, and are working toward at least one additional potential launch per year through 2022.

"We have a focused and differentiated pipeline in immuno-oncology, oncology and immunology that has the potential to make a substantial difference in the lives of patients," said Luciano Rossetti, Head of Global R&D at the biopharmaceutical business, Merck Serono, in an investor call following presentations at this year's European Cancer Congress (ECC) in Vienna, which took place Sept. 25 - 29. "Our priorities include accelerating high-priority programs and ensuring launch success to secure long-term growth."

Merck has been rebuilding its research and development organization over the past four years, with new leadership and improved R&D operating model. Rigorous project prioritization, increased efficiency and more agile decision making has allowed the company to progress its R&D productivity. Merck is on track to deliver a continuous flow of innovative specialty medicines in areas of high unmet medical need, including several promising earlier stage assets.