- Gilead Sciences continues to be an active dealmaker, announcing Monday that it will pay Arcus Biosciences $35 million to kickstart research in inflammatory diseases. The deal expands on a 10-year collaboration the two companies signed in oncology that has helped push two Arcus immunotherapies into Phase 3 trials.
- Arcus will work on four inflammatory disease targets, while Gilead will hold an option to license each one at two separate time points. Per deal terms, Arcus could receive up to $420 million in fees and royalties for each of the first two programs if Gilead exercises its option at the first opportunity.
- The announcement comes one week after Gilead signed a deal to acquire privately held XinThera for access to its pipeline of inflammatory disease and cancer drugs. Last year, Gilead bought U.K.-based MiroBio for its slate of experimental autoimmune disease drugs and cell therapy developer Tmunity.
Gilead’s prowess in developing antivirals, in particular those for HIV and hepatitis C, hasn’t always been replicated in other disease areas. The California-based company bought into its first successes in cancer by acquiring Kite Pharma for its CAR-T treatments and Immunomedics for the breast cancer antibody drug Trodelvy.
The initial Arcus deal, signed in 2020, gave Gilead entry into the field of cancer immunotherapy, with drugs hitting targets like PD-1 and TIGIT. The latest expansion is aimed at helping Arcus initiate early inflammatory disease research without the biotech drawing too deeply from its own funds.
“The research collaboration facilitates much earlier alignment between Gilead and Arcus on our discovery and development activities, while enabling Arcus to expand into inflammation in a capital-efficient manner,” said Arcus CEO Terry Rosen in a statement.
Gilead will have the option to license all commercial rights to the first two drug candidates emerging from the inflammatory disease collaboration. On the second two, Arcus would have rights to co-develop and co-commercialize in the U.S.
Gilead said the transaction will reduce its 2023 per-share earnings by $0.02. The total value of the deal could amount to $1 billion, the company said.
The companies haven't disclosed what diseases or what biological targets they aim to research. Gilead’s acquisition of MiroBio was for drugs aimed at immune “checkpoints,” which in oncology involves activating immune cells to fight cancer but in autoimmune disease relates to turning those same cells off.
MiroBio’s most advanced candidate targets a protein found on T, B and dendritic cells, and it also had a PD-1 receptor agonist, which activates another protein found on T and B cells that reduces their activity. In cancer, PD-1 inhibitors are used to activate immune cells against tumors. Arcus has developed a PD-1 inhibitor called zimberelimab, which is in two Phase 3 trials.