Discover Biotech Digital Health Pharma FDA & EMA ONCOLife Contact

Merck's $680 Million Strategic Move to Boost Oncology Pipeline with Harpoon Acquisition


8 January 2024

Merck announced the acquisition of Harpoon Therapeutics for approximately $680 million, aimed at bolstering its oncology pipeline. Central to this acquisition deal is the focus on Harpoon's innovative cancer treatments, such as HPN328, which targets small cell lung cancer and neuroendocrine tumors.

This strategic move enhances Merck's oncology portfolio, leveraging Harpoon's TriTAC and ProTriTAC technologies to advance cancer immunotherapy. The merger awaits shareholder and regulatory approvals, expected to conclude in early 2024.

Dr. Dean Y. Li, President of Merck Research Laboratories, underscored the potential of this collaboration and pointed out: “At Merck, we continue to enhance our oncology pipeline through strategic acquisitions that complement our current portfolio and advance breakthrough science to help address the needs of people with cancer worldwide. This agreement reflects the creativity and commitment of scientists and clinical development teams at Harpoon. We look forward to further evaluating HPN328 in innovative combinations with other pipeline candidates.”

HPN328: A New Hope for Cancer Treatment

Central to this acquisition is HPN328, a pioneering T-cell engager targeting delta-like ligand 3 (DLL3), which is primarily expressed in small cell lung cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. Currently in Phase 1/2 clinical trials, HPN328 has demonstrated encouraging interim results, particularly in the treatment of small cell lung cancer. This development aligns with Merck's commitment to addressing the complex challenges of cancer treatment through cutting-edge science.

The Synergy of Merck and Harpoon's Expertise

Harpoon's expertise lies in its proprietary Tri-specific T cell Activating Construct (TriTAC®) platform and ProTriTAC™ technology. These are designed to harness a patient's immune system to target and destroy cancer cells, representing a significant advancement in cancer immunotherapy. The merger with Merck, a leader in oncology clinical development with a global footprint, is poised to further this innovative approach.

Harpoon's Continued Legacy and Merck's Vision

Julie Eastland, Harpoon's CEO, expressed pride in their progress and optimism about the future under Merck's stewardship. “With Merck’s recognized leadership in oncology clinical development and global commercial footprint, our lead candidate, HPN328, is well positioned moving forward. Harpoon team has made great progress over the past eight years in leveraging our research platform to develop an innovative suite of candidates, and we are pleased that Merck has recognized the significant potential of our pipeline.”

A Strategic and Financial Overview

Under the terms, Merck will purchase Harpoon at $23.00 per share in cash. The Board of Directors at Harpoon has unanimously endorsed the deal, which awaits approval from Harpoon's stockholders and compliance with the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The transaction, expected to close in the first half of 2024, will be treated as an asset acquisition, with Merck anticipating a charge of approximately $650 million.

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

Make a Comment!