Another 49er for Gilead


Gilead has once more invested in an immuno-oncology company – but declined to take a controlling interest. Following its purchase of a 49.9% stake of Pionyr a month ago the group today bought 49.9% of the equity of Tizona Therapeutics, this time for $300m. Gilead can acquire the rest of Tizona for up to $1.25bn more, including an option exercise fee and potential milestones. The deal does not cover Tizona’s lead asset, however: TTX-030, an anti-CD39 MAb, was optioned to Abbvie in early 2019 and will be spun off into a separate entity before the Gilead transaction closes. Evidently Gilead sees value in the rest of Tizona’s pipeline, including TTX-080, a potential first-in-class asset that targets HLA-G, an emerging immune checkpoint expressed in many tumour types. A phase I trial evaluating TTX-080 both as a monotherapy and in combination with other agents in patients with advanced cancers is slated to start in the third quarter. As with Pionyr’s pipeline projects, the aim of TTX-080 seems to be addressing tumours that do not respond to anti-PD-(L)1 therapies, so at least the strategy behind Gilead’s deal making is consistent.

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