Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) and Merck (NYSE: MRK) are extending their partnership focusing on a potential joint treatment for a certain type of lung cancer. The companies say the move comes after encouraging results from a Phase I study of the combination of Lilly’s Alimta and Merck’s Keytruda.
Lilly and Merck plan to conduct a Phase III study to examine the safety and effectiveness of the combination in patients with nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer.
Alimta, or pemetrexed, is an injectable therapy that can be combined with immunotherapy treatments. Keytruda, or pembrolizumab, is a humanized antibody designed to increase the ability of the body’s immune system to detect and fight tumor cells.
In a release from the companies, Lilly Oncology Senior Vice President Richard Gaynor said, "The extension of our immuno-oncology collaboration with Merck reinforces our combination-focused strategy, which we believe has the potential to help this patient population where there is a significant unmet need. Building upon this scientific partnership represents our shared, strong commitment to improve the lives of those living with cancer."