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Merck, AstraZeneca announce collaboration for investigational cancer treatment


LONDON Two big drug makers will work together to investigate a new combination therapy for cancer.

U.S. drug maker Merck & Co. and Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca announced Monday that they would work to develop a cancer-fighting regimen combining Merck investigational compound MK-2206 and AstraZeneca compound AZD6244. Both compounds have completed phase 1 clinical testing, and the AstraZeneca compound is in phase 2 studies.

Evidence from preclinical studies has indicated that the combination of the two drugs could enhance their ability to fight cancer. The companies said this was the first time that two large drug companies had collaborated to investigate combining drugs at such an early development stage.

“There is strong scientific rationale to suggest that the potential benefit to cancer patients of this combination may far exceed the sum of the parts,” Merck Research Labs SVP and franchise head for oncology Gary Gilliland said in a statement. “In order to harness the true potential of the combined administration of these compounds, AstraZeneca and Merck have established a pioneering, early-stage collaboration based on our mutual determination to develop impactful therapies that improve patients’ lives.”

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