Abbvie looks east for CD47

Abbvie signs up China’s I-Mab instead of Trillium, but several other early-stage contenders are looking at the novel immuno-oncology mechanism.


Move over Gilead, Abbvie reckons it has got a differentiated CD47-targeting agent. And Abbvie stands to pay a lot less for lemzoparlimab, which it licensed from the Chinese group I-Mab Biopharma today, than the $4.9bn that Gilead shelled out for Forty Seven in March.

Abbvie still needs to prove that lemzoparlimab is indeed a contender and full phase I data, coming soon, will be closely watched. But with two big deals this year this is quite the turnaround for the CD47 mechanism, which had looked moribund after Celgene’s 2018 termination of its anti-CD47 MAb CC-90002.

Others in the space that have so far been left out in the cold, such as Trillium, will hope the renewed interest could also bag them a partner or buyer.

Simply the best?

I-Mab claims that lemzoparlimab, also known as TJC4, is different from the rest because it minimises binding to red blood cells – the company says this is what caused adverse events like anaemia with the older CD47-antibodies.

The Chinese group also claims that the project has demonstrated its “differentiated profile” in a phase I US trial in patients with solid tumours and lymphoma. Full data will be presented at the SITC meeting in November, I-Mab executives said during a conference call today.

Abbvie obviously saw enough to pique its interest, but its deal with I-Mab is heavily back end-loaded. The group will pay $200m up front to license lemzoparlimab outside China. A further $840m will be due if the project hits certain clinical and regulatory milestones, and another $900m in milestones is dependent on sales.

At just under $2bn in biodollars, this is the biggest outlicensing deal by a China-based biotech company, the I-Mab execs said on the call. Still, it pales in comparison to the $4.9bn that Gilead paid for Forty Seven (CD47 is worth $4.9bn to Gilead, March 2, 2020).

But there might be more to come: Abbvie also has first dibs at two lemzoparlimab-based bispecific antibodies that are currently in preclinical development. I-Mab reckons they could have utility in solid tumours and hopes to start clinical trials next year.

There is also the potential to combine lemzoparlimab with other Abbvie agents. The I-Mab execs highlighted Venclexta and lemzoparlimab as one potential combo.

As for the competition, Gilead’s magrolimab is poised to start phase III, putting it ahead of a sizeable pack that includes Trillium, another group that has been touted as a potential acquisition target. Trillium’s stock sank 10% today, perhaps as it missed out on getting acquired again. With pharma interest in CD47 resurgent, more deals could be coming, and buyers have plenty of assets to choose from. 

Anti-CD47s in the clinic
Project Company (originator)
Mechanism of Action
NCT ID  Notes/primary completion date
Phase III
Magrolimab Gilead Sciences (Forty Seven) CD47 antibody NCT04313881 Phase III due to start soon; phase II data 2021
Phase II
AO-176 Arch Oncology CD47 antibody NCT03834948 Phase I/II ongoing, data due 2021
Abbvie (I-Mab) CD47 antibody NCT04202003 & NCT03934814 Dec 21 & Feb 22
DSP107 KAHR Medical CD47x41BB bi-functional fusion protein NCT04440735 Phase I/II due to start Sep 2020
Phase I
ALX148 ALX Oncology Anti-CD47/SIRPα fusion protein  NCT04417517 Phase I/II due to start soon, phase I ongoing (June 2023)
IBI188 Innovent Biologics CD47 MAb NCT03717103 (China only) & NCT04511975 (US only) Jul 20 & Oct 21
TTI-622 Trillium Therapeutics Anti-CD47/SIRPα fusion protein  NCT03530683 Aug 20
TG-1801 TG Therapeutics (Light Chain Bioscience) Anti-CD19-CD47 bispecific  NCT03804996 Feb 21
TTI-621 Trillium Therapeutics Anti-CD47/SIRPα fusion protein  NCT02663518 Jun 21
IMC-002 Sorrento Therapeutics
(ImmuneOncia Therapeutics)
CD47 antibody NCT04306224 May 22
SL-172154 Shattuck Labs Bi-functional fusion protein targeting CD47 and CD40 NCT04406623 Jul 22
CC-95251 Bristol-Myers Squibb
Anti-SIRPα Mab NCT03783403 Dec 22
(BI 765063)
Boehringer Ingelheim/OSE Immunotherapeutics (Effimune) Monoclonal antibody SIRPα antagonist NCT03990233 Dec 22
IBI322 Innovent Biologics Anti-CD47/PD-L1 bispecific antibody NCT04328831 (China only) Sep 23
ZL-1201 Zai Lab CD47 antibody NCT04257617 Jan 24
Sources: EvaluatePharma,

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