Merck set to acquire Tilos Therapeutics for $773 million
By Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.
This is Merck’s third oncology company acquisition this year, after Immune Design and Peloton Therapeutics.
On June 10th, Merck & Co. announced its decision to buy all outstanding shares of Boston-based Tilos therapeutics for a deal worth $773 million, that includes both upfront and milestone payments. This deal is in line with Merck’s goal of lowering its over reliance on Keytruda and strengthening its immuno oncology pipeline after acquiring Peloton Therapeutics last month for $1.05 billion and Immune Design last February for $300 million. Tilos is a privately held biopharmaceutical company that uses the power of the immune system in developing therapies against cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases by targeting the latent TGF-beta releasing immunosuppressive cells. TGF-beta is a potent cytokine that interacts with a latency-associated peptide (LAP) and forms a complex which grows in the extracellular matrix. Tilos has developed anti-LAP antibodies that inhibits the release of TGF-beta and therefore function as immune boosters.
“Tilos has developed a compelling portfolio of candidates that employ a novel approach to modulating the potent signaling molecule TGFβ by binding to latency-associated peptide, with potential applications across a range of disease indications” said Dr. Dean Li, senior vice president, discovery and translational medicine, Merck Research Laboratories.
The company was founded in 2016 based on the research on LAP-TGF-beta and anti-LAP antibodies from Drs. Galina Gabriely and Howard Weiner at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. It was established using Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Partners Innovation Fund, with additional investment from ShangPharma Innovation Fund
“We are proud that the Tilos team has advanced the discoveries of our scientific founders by developing a portfolio of anti-LAP antibodies designed to realize the full potential of TGFβ-modulating therapeutics,” said Dr. Barbara Fox, CEO of Tilos. “This agreement with Merck, an industry leader in biopharmaceutical research and development, provides meaningful validation for our therapeutic approach and best positions our pipeline for broad clinical and commercial success.”
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