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Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an uncommon and aggressive type of skin cancer that originates from Merkel cells, specialized cells found in the basal layer of the skin. Leveraging our extensive expertise in the field of rare disease therapy research, our company is dedicated to offering comprehensive drug and therapy solutions for MCC to pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Introduction to Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a relatively uncommon neuroendocrine tumor that predominantly affects the skin. In the United States, the incidence of MCC is approximately 0.7 cases per 100,000 person-years. This type of cancer is characterized by its aggressive growth pattern and strong propensity to metastasize. MCC typically presents as a painless, firm nodule with a red or violet hue.

Pathogenesis of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, particularly from excessive sun exposure or tanning beds, is considered a significant risk factor for MCC development. Additionally, individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with organ transplants or HIV infection, are at an increased risk. The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) has also been implicated in the development of MCC, as it is often detected in MCC tumor cells.

Immunohistological analysis of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).Fig. 1 Immunohistochemistry of MCC. (Dellambra E., et al., 2021)

Targets of Merkel Cell Carcinoma Therapy

Several key targets have been identified in MCC, including programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), and the MCPyV oncoprotein. These targets play significant roles in immune evasion and tumor progression, making them attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. Other potential targets include:

  • RB1 Gene
  • TP53 Gene
  • NOTCH Genes
  • Hedgehog Signaling Pathway
  • PI3K-AKT-mTOR Pathway
  • Chromatin Modifying Genes
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Tyrosine Kinase Receptors
  • BCL-2 Family
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • MicroRNAs

Therapies of Merkel Cell Carcinoma


Immunotherapy has brought about a paradigm shift in the therapeutics of various cancers, including MCC. Notably, immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as avelumab and pembrolizumab, have demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in MCC management. These inhibitors work by blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway, thereby enhancing the immune system's capacity to identify and eliminate cancer cells.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies have emerged as a promising approach to combat Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) by selectively inhibiting molecules or pathways crucial for tumor growth and survival. In the case of MCC, potential targets include the MCPyV oncoprotein and various signaling pathways, such as the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway.

Our Services

We offer cutting-edge diagnostics to identify the specific molecular characteristics of each tumor, enabling personalized therapy strategies. Furthermore, our therapy development services focus on discovering and developing novel therapeutics for MCC.

Therapy Development Platforms

Animal Models of Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)

At our company, we specialize in developing robust and reliable animal models for MCC research. Additionally, we provide comprehensive preclinical research services, including pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies, and drug safety evaluations.

Xenograft Model Development
We specialize in developing xenograft models, where MCC tumor tissue or cell line is implanted into immune-deficient mice. These models closely mimic the biological characteristics of the original tumor, enabling the evaluation of drug responses and personalized therapy approaches.
Optional Models
  • WaGa-derived MCC xenografts
  • MKL-1-derived MCC xenografts
Optional Species Mouse, Rat, Non-human primates, Others

Furthermore, we offer a wide range of personalized animal models tailored to meet various requirements. If you are interested in our services, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information and details regarding pricing and related services.


  • Dellambra E., et al. "Merkel cell carcinoma." Biomedicines 9.7 (2021): 718.
  • Stachyra K., et al. "Merkel cell carcinoma from molecular pathology to novel therapies." International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22.12 (2021): 6305.

All of our services and products are intended for preclinical research use only and cannot be used to diagnose, treat or manage patients.

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