Merck & Co. to Acquire Tilos Therapeutics in Deal Worth Up to $773 Million

June 13, 2019

The acquisition will boost Merck’s pipeline for cancer, fibrosis, and autoimmune disease therapeutics.

Merck & Co. announced on June 10, 2019 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tilos Therapeutics, a privately held biopharmaceutical company targeting cancer, fibrosis, and autoimmune disease therapeutics in a deal worth up to $773 million.

Under the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding shares of Tilos. The $773-million transaction price includes an upfront payment and contingent milestone payments.

Tilos’s development strategy centers around targeting the latent TGFβ complex. TGFβ is a potent cytokine believed to play an important role in the development of cancer and fibrotic diseases. It is secreted as a complex together with the protein, latency-associated peptide (LAP). LAP forms a cage around TGFβ, holding the cytokine in an inactive state until it is deployed. Evidence has shown that anti-LAP antibodies block the release of TGFβ from the TGFβ-LAP complex with the potential to provide a novel therapeutic mechanism to reduce TGFβ activity, according to Merck.

“At Merck we continue to enhance our robust pipeline through active execution of our business development strategy," said Dr. Dean Li, senior vice-president, discovery and translational medicine, Merck Research Laboratories, in a company press release. “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.”

“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, Tilos, in the release. “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.”

Source: Merck & Co.