Gilead Sciences has partnered with US-based biotechnology company Agenus for the development and commercialisation of up to five immuno-oncology (I-O) treatments.
Under the terms of the deal, Gilead will gain worldwide exclusive rights to AGEN1423, as well as an exclusive option to licence AGEN1223 and AGEN2373.
Agenus has already filed the investigational new drug (IND) application for AGEN1223, and is planning to complete AGEN1423 and AGEN2373 filings by the end of this year and in first half of next year respectively.
The company will have the right to opt-in to shared development and commercialisation for one of the option programmes in the US. Gilead will have an additional right of first negotiation for two additional, undisclosed preclinical programmes.
Gilead Sciences chief scientific officer and Research and Development head John McHutchison said: “Our collaboration with Agenus gives us access to novel and differentiated immune modulating antibodies that will complement our growing oncology portfolio and cell therapy business.”
According to the terms of the agreement, Gilead will pay $150m, including a $120m upfront payment and a $30m equity investment, upon the close of the deal.
Agenus is eligible for approximately $1.7bn in potential future fees and milestones.
Agenus chairman and CEO Garo Armen said: “Gilead’s established global presence and commitment to disruptive therapies, combined with our track-record in building a broad pipeline in I-O, has the potential to yield breakthrough I-O treatments for patients with cancer.”
This week Gilead has also collaborated with Scholar Rock to discover and develop highly specific inhibitors of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) activation for fibrotic diseases.
The alliance will provide Gilead with exclusive options to licence worldwide rights to product candidates resulting from three Scholar Rock TGFβ programmes.
Scholar Rock will carry out antibody discovery and preclinical research. It retains exclusive worldwide rights to discover, develop and commercialise certain TGFβ inhibitors for oncology and cancer immunotherapy.
Additional reporting by Allie Nawrat:
The three drugs involved in Gilead and Agenus’ partnership are in the clinical stage.
AGEN1423 is a bispecific antibody engineered to combat two prominent resistance pathways and enhance the anti-tumour activity of myeloid cells, such as NK cells and T cells.
AGEN1223 is also a bispecific antibody, but it works by selectively depleting immunosuppressive T cells from tumour microenvironment by targeting antigens on the surface of T cells.
AGEN2373 is a CD137 agonist and a positive regulator of the immune system. The drug works by enhancing CD137 co-stimulating signalling in activated immune cells. It also has unique properties that limit its activity away from the tumour site.