Market Overview

Merck Strikes $773M Deal For Privately Held Tilos Therapeutics

Merck Strikes $773M Deal For Privately Held Tilos Therapeutics

Keeping in line with the biotech M&A frenzy seen for much of the year, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) announced a deal Monday to buy Tilos Therapeutics.

Only recently, the pharma giant agreed to buy Peloton Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $2.2 billion.

What Happened

Merck struck an agreement to buy privately held Tilos, which develops therapies targeting the latent transforming growth factor — or TGT-beta — complex for treating cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases, for up to $773 million, including an upfront payment as well as contingent milestone payments.

"Tilos has developed a compelling portfolio of candidates that employ a novel approach to modulating the potent signaling molecule TGF-beta by binding to latency-associated peptide, with potential applications across a range of disease indications," Dean Li, senior vice president for discovery and translational medicine at Merck Research Laboratories, said in a statement. 

Why It's Important

TGF-beta inhibitors are antibodies that target a protein called latency-associated peptide, and could come in handy to break the in-built or acquired resistance to checkpoint inhibitors such as Merck's Keytruda. They are therefore termed immunotherapy boosters.

A TGF-beta inhibitor when paired with Keytruda can help a patient's immune system track a tumor it might have missed previously.

Merck shares were trading up slightly at $82.49 at the time of publication Monday. 

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