Pfizer bolsters oncology pipeline via Trillium buy

Pfizer entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trillium Therapeutics for $18.50 per share in cash, representing an equity value of nearly $2.3 billion, the companies announced Monday. The deal will bolster Pfizer's oncology pipeline with the addition of Trillium's two lead molecules, TTI-622 and TTI-621, which block the signal-regulatory protein alpha (SIRP alpha)-CD47 axis.

TTI-622 and TTI-621 are currently in Phase Ib/II development and have demonstrated activity as monotherapy in relapsed or refractory lymphoid malignancies, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, peripheral T-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and other lymphoid malignancies. "We are encouraged by the early clinical data for TTI-622 and TTI-621," remarked Chris Boshoff, chief development officer for oncology at Pfizer, adding "the SIRP alpha-CD47 interaction defines a second key immune checkpoint for which disrupting agents are expected to become another important backbone immunotherapy."

Premium of over 200%

"We plan to accelerate the clinical development of SIRPα fusion proteins…and explore combinations within our own portfolio and with innovative next-generation medicines for haematological malignancies," Boshoff said. According to Pfizer, the purchase of Trillium, which represents a premium of 204% to the latter's closing share price on August 20, will "potentially [enhance] growth in 2026-2030 and beyond."

Last year, Pfizer invested $25 million in Trillium, while Jeff Settleman, chief scientific officer of Pfizer's oncology R&D group, was named to Trillium's scientific advisory board. The funding was made as part of Pfizer's initiative unveiled last year to invest up to $500 million across a portfolio of biotechnology companies to support their clinical development programmes.

Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences bought Forty Seven for around $4.9 billion in 2020, gaining full rights to the experimental monoclonal antibody magrolimab, which targets CD47. For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Trillium looks to come from behind in CD47.

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