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Merus Presents Preclinical Data Demonstrating Efficacy of Zeno in Cancer Models with High NRG1 Expression at the AACR Annual Meeting 2024

UTRECHT, The Netherlands and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Merus N.V. (Nasdaq: MRUS) (“Merus”, “the Company”, “we”, or “our”), a clinical-stage oncology company developing innovative, full-length multispecific antibodies (Biclonics® and Triclonics®), today announced preclinical data on zenocutuzumab (Zeno) in cancer models with high neuregulin 1 (NRG1) expression were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024.

“Exemplary of our approach to developing multispecific antibodies, Zeno was selected utilizing unbiased assays to allow biology to teach us which is the best potential Biclonics®. Thereafter, we continue to learn more both preclinically and mechanistically, to identify where the molecule holds potential,” said Cecile Geuijen, Chief Scientific Officer of Merus. “In this study, we examined the efficacy of Zeno in preclinical models expressing high NRG1 levels and found evidence of anti-tumor activity in multiple tumor types.”

Zenocutuzumab, a HER2 × HER3 bispecific antibody, is effective in cancer models with high NRG1 expression​
Observations in the presentation include:

  • Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models (28 PDX models total) representing 21 different tumor types were selected based on high NRG1 expression in the respective tumor types
  • Zeno induced significant tumor growth inhibition in seven of the 28 PDX models tested
  • Zeno was also observed to:
    • Potently inhibit proliferation of N87 gastric cancer and SKBR-3 breast cancer cell lines at high NRG1 concentrations
    • Inhibit proliferation of HCC95, an NRG1-amplified lung cancer cell line, and block signaling through pathways involved in the regulation of cell growth and survival
  • These data show that Zeno is effective in tumor cell killing in vitro and in vivo in high NRG1 expressing cancer models representing multiple different tumor types

The full presentation is available on the Publications page of our website.

About Merus N.V.
Merus is a clinical-stage oncology company developing innovative full-length human bispecific and trispecific antibody therapeutics, referred to as Multiclonics®. Multiclonics® are manufactured using industry standard processes and have been observed in preclinical and clinical studies to have several of the same features of conventional human monoclonal antibodies, such as long half-life and low immunogenicity. For additional information, please visit Merus’ website, X and LinkedIn.

About Zeno
Zeno is an antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC)-enhanced Biclonics® that utilizes the Merus Dock & Block® mechanism to inhibit the neuregulin/HER3 tumor-signaling pathway in solid tumors with NRG1 fusions (NRG1+ cancer). Through its unique mechanism of binding to HER2 and potently blocking the interaction of HER3 with its ligand NRG1 or NRG1-fusion proteins, Zeno has the potential to be particularly effective against NRG1+ cancer. In preclinical studies, Zeno potently inhibits HER2/HER3 heterodimer formation thereby inhibiting oncogenic signaling pathways, leading to inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and blocking tumor cell survival.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements regarding the clinical development of zenocutuzumab or Zeno, preclinical activity and mechanisms of action, the Company’s approach to developing multispecific antibodies, the potential or our Biclonics® antibody candidates, and the potential translation, if any, of the efficacy of Zeno in human subjects based on preclinical models expressing high NRG1 levels and found evidence of anti-tumor activity in multiple tumor types. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the following: our need for additional funding, which may not be available and which may require us to restrict our operations or require us to relinquish rights to our technologies or Biclonics®, Triclonics® and multispecific antibody candidates; potential delays in regulatory approval, which would impact our ability to commercialize our product candidates and affect our ability to generate revenue; the lengthy and expensive process of clinical drug development, which has an uncertain outcome; the unpredictable nature of our early stage development efforts for marketable drugs; potential delays in enrollment of patients, which could affect the receipt of necessary regulatory approvals; our reliance on third parties to conduct our clinical trials and the potential for those third parties to not perform satisfactorily; impacts of the market volatility; we may not identify suitable Biclonics® or bispecific antibody candidates under our collaborations or our collaborators may fail to perform adequately under our collaborations; our reliance on third parties to manufacture our product candidates, which may delay, prevent or impair our development and commercialization efforts; protection of our proprietary technology; our patents may be found invalid, unenforceable, circumvented by competitors and our patent applications may be found not to comply with the rules and regulations of patentability; we may fail to prevail in potential lawsuits for infringement of third-party intellectual property; and our registered or unregistered trademarks or trade names may be challenged, infringed, circumvented or declared generic or determined to be infringing on other marks.

These and other important factors discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2023 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, on February 28, 2024, and our other reports filed with the SEC, could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change, except as required under applicable law. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release.

Multiclonics®, Biclonics® and Triclonics® are registered trademarks of Merus N.V.

Investor and Media Inquiries:
Sherri Spear
Merus N.V.
VP Investor Relations and Corporate Communications

Kathleen Farren
Merus N.V.
IR/Corp Comms

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