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Gilead to pay $745m for three oncology programmes from Arcus Biosciences

The deal will enable Gilead to accelerate the development of candidate molecules and explore treatment combinations with long-term partner Arcus Biosciences

Gilead

Encouraged by early clinical data, Gilead Sciences is exercising its options on three of Arcus Biosciences’ programmes to accelerate the development of candidate molecules and explore treatment combinations across the two portfolios.

The two companies signed a ten-year collaboration in May 2020 that gave Gilead immediate rights to one candidate, zimberelimab – an anti-programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody – and the right to opt into other Arcus programmes. That deal saw Gilead make a $200m equity investment in Arcus, which was bolstered in February by another $220m investment.

The options will cost Gilead $745m, although the deal means a payment of $100m that is due in 2022 will not be made.

The first programme is for domvanalimab, an Fc-silent anti-TIGIT antibody. TIGIT is a checkpoint receptor expressed on immune cells that can cause immunosuppression, which is in phase 2/3 trials for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and AB308 is an Fc-enabled anti-TIGIT antibody under phase 1 evaluation.

The other programmes are for etrumadenant, a dual adenosine A2a/A2b receptor antagonist in phase 1/2 studies in NSCLC, colon cancer and prostate cancer, and quemliclustat, a small molecule CD73 inhibitor in a phase 1 study in metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

“Gilead is pursuing some of the most promising mechanisms of action in oncology today, with the aim of achieving better treatment outcomes for more patients,” said Gilead chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day.

Arcus CEO Terry Rosen added: “The early exercise of Gilead’s options will now ensure that Arcus is well positioned to accelerate and expand clinical development activities so that it may deliver benefit to patients with some of the most difficult to treat cancers, including pancreatic, lung, colon and prostate.”

Should the deal pass antitrust legislation, the two companies expect the transaction to close by the end of the year.

As part of the deal, the companies will co-develop and share the global costs of the clinical programmes and then share the US profits, should any molecules be approved, although Gilead will hold exclusive rights outside the US. Gilead will also pay Arcus tiered royalties ranging from ‘the mid-teens to the low twenties’.

A key part of the deal is the chance for Gilead to add its portfolio candidates to existing Arcus studies, for example, Gilead will be able to pursue chemotherapy-free regimens with Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan-hziy) in combination with optioned Arcus therapies.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

19th November 2021

From: Healthcare

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