Gilead Sciences and Arcus Biosciences have expanded their oncology partnership agreement and announced a significant equity investment and board-level changes.

Gilead will invest $320m in Arcus common stock to expedite the growth of co-development programmes.

Gilead’s chief commercial officer Johanna Mercier will join the board of Arcus, increasing the former’s director designees to three.

The companies reprioritised their joint domvanalimab development programme to concentrate on the Phase III studies STAR-121 for lung cancer and STAR-221 for gastrointestinal cancer.

Both trials are anticipated to reach full enrolment by the end of this year.

This strategic focus aims to research domvanalimab-containing treatment options in areas with significant unmet medical needs, along with chemotherapy.

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Gilead and Arcus are preparing to launch STAR-131, a Phase III lung cancer clinical trial of a domvanalimab plus zimberelimab regimen.

The Phase III ARC-10 study, which compares domvanalimab plus zimberelimab to pembrolizumab monotherapy to treat first-line locally advanced or metastatic, PD-L1-high NSCLC (non-small-cell lung cancer], will therefore cease further enrolment.

The decision to discontinue ARC-10 is strategic, allowing resources to be redirected towards the STAR-121 and STAR-221 studies.

The upcoming Phase III pancreatic cancer study of quemliclustat will proceed as an independent Arcus study under the revised partnership deal.

Domvanalimab, zimberelimab and quemliclustat are all investigational drugs that have not yet received regulatory approvals.

Gilead Sciences chief medical officer Merdad Parsey stated: “This amendment allows Gilead to accelerate the domvanalimab programme and enables Arcus to focus on progressing multiple pipeline assets, including both Gilead-optioned and non-optioned programmes.

“We look forward to strengthening our collaboration as we explore the collective power of our cross-portfolio combinations to help transform how cancer is treated.”

In May 2020, the companies signed a ten-year collaboration deal to jointly develop and market next-generation cancer immunotherapies.

Arcus CEO Terry Rosen stated: “Since the inception of our partnership with Gilead in 2020, the companies have moved increasingly closer in all aspects of our research and development efforts.

“The additional investment by Gilead, which extends our cash runway into 2027, will enable us to fund our Phase III studies of quemliclustat in pancreatic cancer and AB521 in kidney cancer, as well as to begin preparation for our first potential product approvals.”