Gilead Sciences has signed an agreement to acquire clinical-stage immuno-oncology company Forty Seven for $4.9bn.
Forty Seven is engaged in the development of novel checkpoint therapies to stimulate macrophages for the treatment of cancer.
The deal is expected to strengthen Gilead’s immuno-oncology research and development portfolio with the addition of Forty Seven’s investigational product candidate magrolimab.
Magrolimab, a monoclonal antibody, is under clinical development to treat various cancers such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).
Magrolimab is said to target CD47, a ‘do not eat me’ signal that enables cancer cells to avoid destruction and helps the patient’s own innate immune system to engulf and eliminate cancer cells.
Gilead Sciences chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day said: “Magrolimab complements our existing work in haematology, adding a non-cell therapy program that complements Kite’s pipeline of cell therapies for haematological cancers.”
Initially, Forty Seven is evaluating magrolimab in patients with MDS and AML. Additional studies are underway in non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and solid tumours.
Forty Seven secured fast track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for magrolimab to treat MDS and AML, as well as relapsed or refractory DLBCL and follicular lymphoma, two forms of B-cell NHL.
The company also secured FDA orphan drug designation for magrolimab to treat MDS and AML, as well as from the European Medicines Agency to treat AML.
Forty Seven also intends to advance two additional investigational compounds, including FSI-174 and FSI-189, into clinical testing.
The FSI-174, an anti-cKIT antibody, is being developed in combination with magrolimab as a novel, all-antibody conditioning regimen to deal with the limitations of current stem cell transplantation conditioning regimens.
The FSI-189, an anti-SIRPα antibody, is being developed to treat cancer and certain non-oncology settings such as transplantation conditioning.
Forty Seven president and CEO Dr Mark McCamish said: “This is an exciting day for patients who may one day benefit from future anti-CD47 therapies and other immuno-oncology treatments based on our research and an exciting time for Forty Seven as this allows us to achieve our vision of helping patients defeat their cancer.”
Subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to be completed during the second quarter of this year.
Citi and J.P. Morgan are serving as joint financial advisors to Gilead on the transaction while Centerview Partners is serving as the exclusive financial advisor to Forty Seven.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is acting as legal counsel to Gilead while Cooley is acting as legal counsel to Forty Seven.