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Merrimack Progresses with MM-111

Zacks Equity Research

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MACK) recently advanced its oncology candidate MM-111 to a phase II development. The company started enrolling patients in the phase II study of MM-111. MM-111 is a bispecific antibody being developed for the treatment of advanced gastric, esophageal and gastroesophageal junction (:GEJ) cancers.

The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy candidate in two different groups of patients who have overexpressed HER2 receptor with limited chemotherapeutic and other therapeutic treatments.

Merrimack also has MM-398 in its pipeline, which is currently in a phase III development for the second-line treatment of pancreatic cancer patients. Their disease has progressed after treatment with Eli Lilly and Company’s (LLY) Gemzar (gemcitabine).

MM-398 was granted orphan drug designation by the European Medicines Agency (:EMA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011, for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. MM-398 is also being evaluated in other cancer indications.

Merrimack also has a license and collaboration agreement with Sanofi (SNY) for developing another oncology candidate MM-121. MM-121 is being evaluated for multiple cancer indications. In May 2013, Merrimack completed the patient enrollment in a phase II study on MM-121 for the breast cancer indication.

Other early-stage pipeline candidates at Merrimack include MM-302, MM-151, MM-141. MM-302 is being developed for the treatment of breast cancer, while MM-151 and MM-141 are being developed for the treatment of solid tumors.

We note that Merrimack was recently in the news regarding its common stock and convertible senior notes offering. The company intends to use net proceeds from this offering to advance its pipeline.

Merrimack currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). At present, in the biopharma space, companies like Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) look well positioned with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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