Gilead acquires oncology specialist Forty Seven in $4.9bn deal

By Vassia Barba

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/marchmeena29)
(Image: Getty/marchmeena29)

Related tags Gilead Cancer Monoclonal antibodies acquisition

Gilead set to acquire Forty Seven in a $4.9bn deal to advance the developer’s lead mAb candidate, a potential cancer treatment.

Under the agreement, Gilead will pay Forty Seven a cash payment of $95.5 (€85.6) per share, a sum valuing the acquired company at $4.9bn (€4.39bn), with the transaction expected to close during the second quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.

Forty Seven’s investigational lead product candidate is magrolimab, a monoclonal antibody (mAb) in clinical development for the treatment of several cancers, including myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Beyond magrolimab, Forty Seven also holds two investigational compounds in the clinic. The first is FSI-174, an anti-cKIT antibody, which is being developed in combination with magrolimab as a novel, all-antibody conditioning regimen to address the limitations of current stem cell transplantation conditioning regimens.

While FSI-189, an anti-SIRPα antibody, is being developed for the treatment of cancer, as well as certain non-oncology settings, including transplantation conditioning.

This deal follows the trend of big biopharmaceutical companies harnessing promising developments from smaller companies to supplement their own R&D.

Gilead has been through this process before in 2017, with the acquisition of Kite​ for its chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T technology.

Gilead’s CEO, Daniel O’Day, commented that the deal provides ‘significant potential’ to the company’s clinical pipeline, as well as adding that Forty Seven’s lead candidate complements Gilead’s existing work in hematology.

Promising asset

As a potential therapy, magrolimab targets CD47, a ‘do not eat me’ signal that allows cancer cells to avoid destruction thereby permitting the patient’s own innate immune system to engulf and eradicate those cancer cells.

In December, Forty Seven presented promising results of a Phase Ib study of magrolimab in patients with MDS and AML, doubling the value of its shares and hinting at the potential to achieve a first-in-class therapy.

Additional ongoing studies are examining magrolimab as a treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and solid tumors.

The product is being developed under fast track designation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of MDS and AML, and for the treatment of relapsed or refractory DLBCL and follicular lymphoma, two forms of B-cell NHL.

Moreover, magrolimab has also been granted orphan drug designation by the FDA for the treatment of MDS and AML and by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of AML.

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