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Gilead makes a play for novel cancer drug with Tizona deal

Pharma company continues oncology biotech spending spree

Gilead

Gilead has made a play for another small oncology specialist, Tizona Therapeutics, as it continues its foray into the immunotherapy research and development space.

The deal focuses on Tizona’s lead antibody, TTX-080, which is currently being investigated in a phase 1b study. TTX-080 is a HLA-G inhibitor, an emerging immune checkpoint that is expressed across a number of tumour types.

By developing treatments that target HLA-G, which often appears distinct to PD-1/L-1 immune checkpoints, researchers hope that they can address tumours that do not respond to current anti-PD-1/L1 therapies and deepen responses in tumours that are sensitive to these treatments.

Under the terms of the deal, Gilead has made an upfront payment to Tizona of $300m, securing 49.9% equity interest in the company. Gilead has also agreed an exclusive option to fully acquire Tizona following the completion of the phase 1b studies for TTX-080, but this is not dependent on this milestone – Gilead can buy out the biotech earlier if it chooses.

Should Gilead decide to fully acquire Tizona, the remaining equity holders will be eligible to receive up to $1.25bn in an option exercise fee and potential milestone payments.

Tizona is also set to spin-off development of its anti-CD39 antibody TTX-030 partnered with AbbVie. AbbVie paid $105m upfront as well as an undisclosed equity payment to Tizona to secure exclusive rights to the drug last year.

“Tizona is pursuing first-in-class cancer immunotherapies that could make an important difference in oncology by helping patients who don’t respond to current checkpoint inhibitors,” said Daniel O’Day, chairman and chief executive officer of Gilead.

“This agreement with Tizona adds to the significant progress we’ve made in the first half of this year in building a strong and diverse immuno-oncology pipeline. We now have multiple opportunities to develop novel therapies that will improve the treatment of cancer,” he added.

Anti-PD-1/L1 therapies have transformed the landscape of cancer treatments, with a number of drugs in this class reaching the market over the last five years in a range of cancer types. Gilead, however, is looking past PD-1/L1 inhibitors to the next class of transformative treatments, with its play for Tizona just the latest in a string of similar deals for novel oncology therapies.

That includes a partnership with Arcus Biosciences, agreed in May, for the development and commercialisation of a pipeline of investigational immuno-oncology products. In March, Gilead also signed a $4.9bn deal to acquire Forty Seven, a company that specialises in cancer immunotherapies targeting the CD47 immune checkpoint.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

22nd July 2020

From: Sales

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