By Chris Wack

 

Nektar Therapeutics shares were up 5% to $17.10 after the company said it entered into a new oncology clinical collaboration with Merck KGaA and Pfizer Inc.

The deal is for the company to evaluate the maintenance regimen of NKTR-255, Nektar's interleukin-15 receptor agonist, in combination with avelumab, a PD-L1 inhibitor, in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma in a Phase II study.

NKTR-255 is wholly owned by Nektar and is currently being evaluated in two separate clinical studies in both liquid and solid tumors. The novel IL-15 agonist is designed to activate the IL-15 pathway to expand both natural killer cells and memory CD8+ T cell populations.

Avelumab, which is marketed in the U.S. as Bavencio, is co-developed and co-commercialized by Merck KGaA and Pfizer Inc.

Under the new collaboration, Merck KGaA and Pfizer Inc. will include the combination of NKTR-255 plus avelumab in the study. Nektar will supply NKTR-255 for the trial. Nektar and the Merck KGaA-Pfizer alliance will each maintain existing global commercial rights to their respective medicines. The study is expected to begin enrolling patients in the first quarter of 2022.

Nektar stock hit its 52-week low of $12.92 on Aug. 20.

 

Write to Chris Wack at chris.wack@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 21, 2021 13:29 ET (17:29 GMT)

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