Merck to Acquire VelosBio for $2.75 Billion

November 6, 2020
BioPharm International Editors

Through the acquisition, Merck will gain access to VelosBio’s lead investigational candidate, VLS-101, an antibody-drug conjugate that targets receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1.

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced on Nov. 5, 2020 that it is acquiring VelosBio, a US-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing cancer therapies, for $2.75 billion in cash.

Through the acquisition, Merck will gain access to VelosBio’s lead investigational candidate, VLS-101, an antibody-drug conjugate that targets receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1), a Merck press release said. The therapy is currently involved in Phase I and II clinical trials in patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.

“At Merck, we continue to bolster our growing oncology pipeline with strategic acquisitions that both complement our current portfolio and strengthen our long-term growth potential,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories, in the press release. “Pioneering work by VelosBio scientists has yielded VLS-101, which in early studies has provided notable evidence of activity in heavily pretreated patients with refractory hematological malignancies, including mantel cell lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.”

“Merck is a recognized leader in oncology, and this acquisition reflects the hard work and commitment of all the employees at VelosBio in advancing the science of ROR1,” added Dave Johnson, founder and CEO of VelosBio, in the press release. “We are very pleased that Merck has recognized the value of our first-in-class ROR1-directed investigational therapeutics. As part of Merck’s oncology pipeline, our lead product candidate, VLS-101, is now well positioned to achieve its maximum potential to benefit appropriate cancer patients in need.”

Source: Merck