Merck (NYSE: MRK) (MSD outside the United States and Canada), is to acquire Tilos Therapeutics, a Lexington, MA-based biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutics targeting the latent TGFβ complex for the treatment of cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding shares of Tilos for total potential consideration of up to $773m, including an upfront payment as well as contingent milestone payments.
The deal will allow Merck continue to enhance its pipeline. Led by Dr. Barbara Fox, CEO, Tilos has developed a 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.
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 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.
The company was founded by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Partners Innovation Fund, based on discoveries by the laboratory of Dr. Howard Weiner at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Additional funding was provided by ShangPharma Innovation Fund.