Trillium Therapeutics announced today that it has acquired Fluorinov Pharma in a deal worth up to C$45 million ($32 million) that gives the buyer a platform for additional cancer treatments based on fluorine chemistry.

Trillium says Fluorinov’s platform has been validated by several advanced preclinical oncology programs, offering the potential for new drug candidates with improved pharmacological properties, as well as new combination therapies.

“The future of cancer treatment is most likely going to be dominated by combination therapies, and we believe that this will often involve combining large and small molecules. This is why we chose to acquire our own small molecule platform that can provide us with a great variety of drug candidates,” Trillium CEO Niclas Stiernholm, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Fluorinov's most advanced preclinical oncology programs include oral bromodomain and proteasome inhibitors, as well as epidermal growth factor receptor antagonists with increased uptake in the brain. According to Trillium, all those compounds have potential for best-in-class status. Trillium’s pipeline also includes discovery-phase compounds directed at undisclosed immuno-oncology targets.

“Our current plan is to advance one, or possibly two, of Fluorinov's existing preclinical programs through the IND-enabling phase using our internal development group, while at the same time focusing our new chemistry group on several of the existing immuno-oncology discovery programs,” added Trillium CSO Bob Uger, Ph.D.

Dr. Uger said the strategy would not change Trillium’s top priority of developing its lead clinical program SIRPαFc, which targets the CD47 molecule expressed by many cancer cells, and would not “dramatically” affect its rate of spending capital or “burn rate” and future financing plans.

“There's no question that Trillium's highest priority is to execute on our clinical CD47 program. However, acquiring a discovery engine with a demonstrated ability to generate high quality preclinical development candidates will significantly enhance our oncology pipeline,” Dr. Uger said, adding that the strategy also “may provide opportunities for future partnerships and collaborations.”

Last month at the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, Trillium presented data showing its SIRPaFc fusion protein was effective at controlling the growth of aggressive B lymphoma xenografts in mice.

“The recent success with their lead program targeting CD47, and their emerging reputation as Canada's leading immuno-oncology company made this a perfect fit for Fluorinov,” stated Malik Slassi, Ph.D., Fluorinov's founder, president and CEO, who will join Trillium as svp of discovery research.

Trillium agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of privately held Fluorinov for C$10 million ($7 million) in upfront cash, plus up to C$35 million ($25 million) in future payments tied to Trillium achieving clinical and regulatory milestones with an undisclosed existing Fluorinov compound.

Trillium said the upfront payment will be subject to adjustment based on Fluorinov’s net working capital and other unspecified adjustments at the time of closing. At Trillium's discretion, up to half the milestone payments can be made by issuing common shares of Trillium—up to 1,558,447 or 19.99% of current outstanding shares—unless shareholder approval is obtained first.

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