Merck, a leading science and technology company, has recently announced the creation of iOnctura, a spin-off dedicated to immuno-oncology. Based in Geneva, iOnctura is formed around two assets from Merck's healthcare R&D portfolio and three other assets from Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK. Merck will manage the investment and will be represented on iOnctura’s board of directors.

iOnctura’s objective is to develop a pipeline of selected assets that target and modulate mechanisms that stimulate tumor immunosuppression. "Our goal is to modulate the main culprits of immunosuppression in the microenvironment of the tumor to maximize the therapeutic potential of control point inhibitors for patients," said Catherine Pickering, co-founder and CEO of iOnctura, in a press release. This type of immunosuppression is one of the reasons why some treatments do not work for some patients.

Promising programs to come

With the support of Merck and CRT, iOnctura has already developed very promising programs, including a research collaboration with CRT Discovery Laboratories. Through these key alliances, iOnctura is "ideally positioned to explore new combined therapies and advance them rapidly to cancer patients," highlights Catherine Pickering.