US MSD to acquire German Rigontec, RIG-I therapeutics pioneer

MSD (tradename of Merck & Co Inc Kenilworth, NJ, US) and have announced that MSD will acquire Rigontec. Rigontec is a pioneer in accessing the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway, part of the innate immune system, as a novel and distinct approach in cancer immunotherapy to induce both immediate and long-term anti-tumor immunity. Rigontec’s lead candidate, RGT100, is currently in Phase I development evaluating treatment in patients with various tumors. Under the terms of the agreement, MSD, through a subsidiary, will make an upfront cash payment of €115 million to Rigontec’s shareholders; based on the attainment of certain clinical, development, regulatory and commercial milestones, MSD may make additional contingent payments of up to €349 million. The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions.
“Rigontec’s immuno-oncology approach of engaging the innate immune system to safely eliminate cancer cells complements our strategy and our current pipeline,” said Dr Eric Rubin, vice president of early-stage development, clinical oncology, MSD Research Laboratories. “We are eager to build upon Rigontec’s science as we continue our efforts in bringing forward meaningful advances for patients with cancer.”
“MSD is a true pioneer in the immuno-oncology space and we are thrilled that our technology will benefit from their experience and leadership position,” said Christian Schetter, PhD, CEO of Rigontec. “We are confident that our programs will be in the best hands and that the team at MSD will continue the work we established with our scientific founders and brought into the clinic within three years since our foundation as a company.”
Rigontec was founded in 2014 as a spin-out of the University Bonn, Germany, and has to date raised close to €30 million from experienced life science investors including Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Forbion Capital Partners, High-Tech Gru¨nderfonds, MP Healthcare Venture Management, NRW.BANK, Sunstone Capital and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.