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Merus Partners With Cancer Centers in Netherlands, Japan to ID Patients for eNRGy Trial

NEW YORK – Cancer drug developer Merus on Tuesday said it will collaborate with Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and National Cancer Center Japan to raise awareness of its eNRGy trial, which is evaluating the firm's HER2/3-targeting bispecific antibody zenocutuzumab in solid tumors characterized by rare NRG1 fusions.

Within these collaborations Merus said it will support access to next-generation sequencing testing for pancreatic cancer patients in the Netherlands and for pancreatic and non-small cell lung cancer patients in Japan, with the goal of identifying individuals with NRG1 fusions and informing them of the option of joining the eNRGy trial.

In the Netherlands, Erasmus University Medical Center, along with the Dutch Pancreatic Cancer Group, will conduct a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the availability of NGS testing and the eNRGy trial through Merus for eligible patients across 17 pancreatic cancer centers in the country.

In Japan, the National Cancer Center will provide RNA sequencing, which Merus will partly fund to identify NRG1 fusions in pancreatic and NSCLC patients. Pancreatic cancer patients with these fusions will be eligible to join the SCRUM-Japan GI-SCREEN trial, while lung cancer patients will have the option of joining the LC-SCRUM-Asia trial. Both studies are using a genome screening platform to identify patients with genomic alterations that can be targeted by drugs under evaluation.

"Merus is supporting a broad molecular screening effort for patients who are not routinely screened for gene mutations," Merus Chief Medical Officer Andrew Joe said in a statement. "Partnering with prestigious academic institutions and national cooperative groups of investigators dedicated to the treatment of cancer is a strategic effort we are undertaking as we seek to advance enrollment in our eNRGy clinical trial to explore the potential for Zeno to become a compelling new treatment option for cancer patients with NRG1 fusions."

In the US, Merus has partnered with Sema4 and Caris Life Sciences, which are providing NGS testing services for enrolling patients in the eNRGy trial.