Merck & Co. Inc. has sifted through seemingly conflicting data and concluded the PFS benefit in a Phase II trial in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer was robust enough to justify paying $120 million up front for Endocyte Inc.'s vintafolide. The deal fits Merck's interest in personalized cancer medicines and could give Endocyte a head start on building a commercial organization.

Vintafolide (EC145) is a conjugate consisting of a vinca alkaloid microtubule destabilizer connected via a linker to a folate vitamin analog. The molecule is being tested in the Phase III PROCEED trial.