Merus receives € 0.75 million grant for the discovery and development of Oligoclonics™ antibody therapy for colon cancer.

January 05, 2011

Utrecht, The Netherlands, January 5th 2010 ‐ Merus announced today that it has received a € 0.75 million grant for the discovery and development of an antibody combination therapy for colon cancer using its innovative Oligoclonics™ and MeMo™ technologies. The grant, awarded by the Dutch governmental organization Agentschap NL as part of the European collaborative program EUREKA, also involves the Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine at the Second University of Naples that separately was awarded a € 0.13 million research grant from a university wide competition.

In this program, Merus will generate therapeutic antibodies from a humanized mouse platform (MeMo™) that can be combined and expressed as mixtures from a single cell (Oligoclonics™). The antibody mixtures will be tested in the laboratory of Prof. Fortunato Ciardiello, a leading expert in preclinical and clinical testing of growth factor receptor targeted therapies for epithelial cancers. It is expected that the resulting lead Oligoclonics™ will have superior biological activity and lower toxicity compared to current antibody therapies (e.g. Erbitux) used to treat colon cancer.

Mark Throsby, COO of Merus, said: "We are delighted with the award of the EUREKA subsidy, which further validates Merus' innovative technologies and product pipeline. The subsidy will allow us to work on an exciting oncology program with a leader in the field resulting in a unique combination of expertise and capabilities.”

“Colon cancer is among the four big killers and accounts for approximately 11% of adult cancers,” comments Fortunato Ciardiello, Professor of Medical Oncology, Head of the Laboratory of Experimental Molecular Therapeutics, and Director of the Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, The Second University of Naples, Italy., “We are excited to be part of this program to test the innovative approach of Merus which could potentially be applied to many other types of cancer.”

The subsidy provides support over three years and aims to yield at least one candidate ready to begin clinical development.

About EUREKA: Founded in 1985, to challenge the increasing migration of R&D and industrial innovation to Asian and North‐American countries, EUREKA now unites 39 member countries and also counts the European Union as its 40th member. Together, they promote international, marketoriented research and innovation through the support they offer to small and medium‐sized enterprises, large industry, universities and research institutes. Through EUREKA, these organizations are introducing new products, processes and services to market, helping make Europe economically strong and socially sound.

About Merus:Merus is a biotechnology company that is applying the MeMo™, Biclonics™ and Oligoclonics™ technologies to build a pipeline of innovative human therapeutic antibodies. These technologies result in bispecific antibodies or mixtures of antibodies that can be applied in multiple therapeutic areas including oncology, chronic inflammation, and infectious diseases. Merus aims to demonstrate superior efficacy of these human recombinant antibody‐based therapeutics in relevant pre‐clinical models and further develop selected product candidates to early clinical testing.

About The Laboratory of Experimental Molecular Therapeutics, Naples: The primary focus of the group is in investigating the role of peptide growth factors of the epidermal growth factor family and of their specific receptors in the development and progression of human cancer. The group showed that the TGFα‐EGFR autocrine pathway is a therapeutic target for the development of selective inhibitors such as anti‐growth factor receptor monoclonal antibodies and small molecule inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase activity. Ongoing research focuses on the integration of these novel antigrowth factor receptor drugs in the medical treatment of human cancer in order to develop novel, less toxic and more selective therapeutic strategies for cancer patients.

For further information please visit our website at www.merus.nl or send an e‐mail to enquiries@merus.nl

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