Canadian I-O biotech Trillium hunts for new partners

The tiny biotech Trillium needs partners for several early programs.

Trillium Therapeutics is seeking new partners as it looks over its pipeline with an eye to the future.

Tiny Toronto-based Trillium has been pursuing CD47, a molecule found on the surface of many tumors that guards against their destruction. The idea is that this scrambles a key immune response that helps guard a range of tumor types by preventing a process called phagocytosis, in which the cancer cells are devoured by a phagocyte. That's what the researchers call a "don't eat me" effect.

Over a year ago, it kick-started a Phase 1 test in relapsed or refractory hematologic malignancies, but this morning, after the July 4 long weekend, the biotech said it had looked over its early-stage work and would change things up.

For one early medication, the brain-penetrant, second-generation, covalent EGFR inhibitor TTI-2341, the biotech said it had benchmarked the drug against two approved EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer, and concluded it “appears to be a viable and competitive drug candidate for the treatment of brain cancers and brain metastases.”

It will keep going with TTI-2341 while “undertaking partnering discussions in parallel.”

And partnership is also the primary goal for TTI-281, which has now finished preclinical testing, with Trillium seeing it as representing “a unique opportunity” to reduce the expression of c-Myc, a proto-oncogene that contributes to the pathogenesis of many cancers, but has proven to be difficult to target.

But as it shifts focus more heavily toward its EGFR program, and with the majority of Trillium’s small resources on its CD47 trial efforts, the company “is now initiating a partnering effort for further development of this program.”