On 23 August, Pfizer stated its aim to acquire Trillium Therapeutics, a Canadian immuno-oncology company focused on developing drugs for several blood cancers, in a $2.26bn deal.

Through this proposed acquisition, Pfizer aims to solidify its place in the blood cancer treatment space after the company generated $10.9bn in revenue from oncology sales last year, representing 26% of Pfizer’s full-year revenue. GlobalData estimates that Trillium’s two lead candidates will generate revenue of more than $1bn from global sales by 2027 if both are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In the US, more than 175,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with some type of blood cancer this year, constituting around 10% of all new cancer diagnoses. Pfizer currently has a strong portfolio for solid tumours, but Pfizer’s oncology global president and general manager Andy Schmeltz believes that the company’s blood cancer product pipeline can be improved.

Last September, Pfizer invested $25m in Trillium’s research and development (R&D) activities as part of the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative, as well as appointing the senior vice-president of Pfizer’s oncology R&D group to Trillium’s scientific advisory board. In a saturated market, Trillium offers a unique opportunity for Pfizer through its novel therapies.

GlobalData expects the monoclonal antibody magrolimab to be the first-to-market anti-CD47 agent, which may receive approval by the FDA next year.

Trillium’s two lead candidates, TTI-621 and TT-622, are fusion proteins that target the CD47 antigen in the signal-regulatory protein (SIRP) α–CD47 axis. This axis produces an inhibitory signal that facilitates cancer cells avoiding destruction by macrophage-mediated phagocytosis. There are currently no marketed agents that target this antigen.

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Although both agents are in Phase I/II trials recruiting patients for many different haematological cancers, GlobalData expects the monoclonal antibody magrolimab to be the first-to-market anti-CD47 agent, which may receive approval by the FDA next year. Gilead Sciences, which purchased magrolimab developer Forty Seven for $4.9bn last year, will provide stiff competition for Pfizer. But nonetheless, this proposed acquisition will be beneficial for both Trillium and Pfizer.

After the proposed acquisition was announced, Trillium saw its shares almost triple to $17.7 this week. According to GlobalData’s consensus analyst forecasts, TTI-621 and TTI-622’s global sales are expected to reach $114m and $911m respectively by 2027. If approved, TTI-622 could become the highest-grossing blood cancer therapy in Pfizer’s product pipeline.