Trillium Therapeutics Inc. is playing a hot hand. The immuno-oncology company followed recently revealed positive data from two dose-escalation phase I studies targeting CD47 by pulling down a $25 million equity investment from Pfizer Inc. Now the company has priced a $130 million underwritten public offering of 10 million common shares at $13 each.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said it plans to spend the net proceeds for ongoing and planned clinical trials for the CD47 program, including drug supply, and for working capital and general corporate purposes. The deal is expected to close around Sept. 16. Cowen and Evercore ISI are acting as joint book-running managers.
The two drugs, TTI-621 and TTI-622, are generating positive data as they target CD47, often referred to as the “don’t eat me” signal cancer cells often use in evading the immune system. The rapidly evolving CD47 space has plenty of companies competing within it, but there are only a few anti-CD47 treatments in early clinical stage.
Trillium is seeing activity around a range of indications in lymphoma, and that’s encouraging to CEO Jan Skvarka, who said the immediate priority is to complete the dose-escalation studies, confirm the activity, and then move on to phase II studies that will cast a wider net.
“We will have a special interest in solid tumors as well,” Skvarka told BioWorld.
TTI-621, a SIRPa-IgG1 Fc fusion protein, is being evaluated in a four-part, multicenter, open-label phase I trial in patients with advanced relapsed or refractory hematologic malignancies. The dosage is escalating in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma patients to 0.5 mg/kg. The preliminary data found the weekly infusions of up to 1.4 mg/kg to be well-tolerated with no dose-limiting thrombocytopenia. At the 1-mg/kg dose, there was one partial response and one skin complete response of antitumor activity in six evaluable patients. Patients are now being enrolled at the 2-mg/kg dose level.
TTI-622, a SIRPa-IgG4 Fc fusion protein, is being evaluated in a two-part, multicenter, open-label, phase Ia/Ib study in patients with advanced relapsed or refractory lymphoma or multiple myeloma. New data showed that at the 1-mg/kg dose, there was one partial response and one skin complete response in six evaluable patients (33%). The phase Ia safety assessment of the 8-mg/kg dosing cohort is completed. All the responses were found at the first assessment at eight weeks. Patients are now being enrolled at the 12-mg/kg dose level.
Clinical responses were found across multiple lymphoma indications, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma with large cell transformation, peripheral T-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.
Pfizer buys in
On Sept. 8, Trillium said it would sell 2.29 million of its common shares for $10.88 each to Pfizer for gross proceeds of $25 million. As with the underwritten public offering, Trillium said it would use the net proceeds to help pay for the ongoing and planned clinical trials plus for working capital and general corporate purposes.
H.C. Wainwright & Co. analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth wrote Sept. 11 that the combination of positive data and the Pfizer investment put any thoughts the firm had of downgrading the stock in the rearview mirror. In fact, he wrote, since both those issues are addressed, “the company is poised to enter a new phase of growth.”
Ramakanth was particularly impressed by the new data and echoed Skvarka’s thoughts on casting a wider net.
“Considering that the study enrolled heavily pretreated patients with 3-9 lines of prior therapy, we believe these results are particularly encouraging and suggest that TTI-622 could potentially be used across a wide range of hematological indications,” Ramakanth wrote.
The analyst also noted that “we believe that this first investment could blossom into a collaboration partnership in the future” and may “potentially lead to the acquisition of the company.”
Despite lackluster stock movement on Sept. 11, Trillium (NASDAQ:TRIL) posted a solid week. On Sept. 9, share value popped up 46% to close at $13.59. On Sept. 11, shares closed at $14.05 each, up nearly a percentage point on the day.
Wither the road show?
The limitations COVID-19 has imposed on the company, such as patients and clinicians working on clinical trials, was not a factor in Trillium’s fundraising, according to Skvarka. If anything, he said, the process was more efficient than the pre-pandemic model.
“We did 25 investor meetings yesterday before the markets closed,” he said. “There’s no way we could do this number of meetings in a typical way.”