Merck taps Xeris for ready-to-use versions of antibody products

Xeris said the Merck deal is part of a series of collaborations with top 10 pharma companies. (Merck & Co.)

Merck has tapped Xeris Pharmaceuticals to help reformulate some of its drugs. The deal gives Merck a chance to license a Xeris technology to develop ultra-high concentration, ready-to-use formulations of certain monoclonal antibodies.

Xeris has used XeriJect, the technology covered by the deal, to formulate suspensions with a protein concentration of 400 mg/mL or more, opening the door to the creation of convenient intramuscular or subcutaneous formulations of antibodies currently given intravenously. The process entails making powder forms of the large molecules, then diluting them to create concentrated, low-volume pastes.

Having developed its intramuscular and subcutaneous delivery technologies, Xeris applied them to commercially available drugs and entered into feasibility programs with “some major pharmaceutical companies.” The goal was to strike deals that provide Xeris with milestone payments and royalties.  

Xeris’ work has landed it a deal with Merck. The terms of the deal, including its financial value and the number and names of antibodies Merck can reformulate, remain private. Xeris downplayed the near-term financial implications of the deal while talking up other aspects of the agreement. 

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“These collaborations are important to validating our technology. We recognize they take time to complete and thus, they are not immediately critical to our near-term core business. However, should Merck exercise the negotiated license agreement, they could be very valuable to Xeris,” Xeris CEO Paul Edick said in a statement.

Edick said the Merck deal is part of “a series of collaborations Xeris has undertaken with top 10 pharma companies evaluating the XeriJect technology.” Xeris has previously disclosed work on treatments for diabetes and epilepsy.