BioLineRx Ltd. (NASDAQ/TASE:BLRX) today announced the initiation of a Phase 2a trial investigating BL-8040 in combination with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), MSD’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. The Phase 2a study, named the COMBAT study, is an open-label, multicenter, single-arm trial designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the combination of BL-8040 and KEYTRUDA in up to 30 subjects with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The study is designed to evaluate the clinical response, safety and tolerability of the combination of these therapies as well as multiple pharmacodynamic parameters, including the ability to improve infiltration of T cells into the tumor and their reactivity. The study will be conducted in the US, Israel and additional territories. In January 2016, BioLineRx entered into an immunotherapy collaboration with MSD, known as Merck in the US and Canada, to support a Phase 2a study investigating BioLineRx’s BL-8040 in combination with KEYTRUDA in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. BL-8040, BioLineRx’s lead oncology platform, is a CXCR4 antagonist that has been shown in several clinical trials to be a robust mobilizer of immune cells and to be effective at inducing direct tumor cell death. Additional findings in the field of immuno-oncology suggest that CXCR4 antagonists may be effective in inducing the infiltration of anti-tumor T cells into the tumor. Therefore, when combined with KEYTRUDA, which blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells, BL-8040 has the potential to enable activated T cells to better reach tumor cells in the fight against pancreatic cancer.