Gilead Sciences has signed an exclusive licence agreement for Israel-based Compugen’s pre-clinical antibody programme against IL-18 binding protein in a $848m deal.

Gilead will gain rights for later-stage development and commercialisation of the antibodies to treat a range of tumours.

The deal includes rights for the high-affinity antibody, COM503. This drug candidate hinders the IL-18 binding protein and IL-18 interaction, aiding the release of natural IL-18 in the tumour microenvironment to hinder the growth of cancer.

Compugen will oversee the pre-clinical development already underway and the prospective Phase I clinical trial of COM503. 

Gilead will then gain exclusive rights for the development and marketing of the drug.

Compugen will receive $60m in an upfront payment from Gilead.

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Contingent on obtaining clearance for the investigational new drug application of COM503 in 2024, Gilead will also make a near-term milestone payment of $30m.

Compugen will receive up to a further $758m in milestone payments on meeting future development, regulatory and commercial targets, apart from royalties on net global sales.

Gilead Sciences Research executive vice-president Flavius Martin stated: “We are very pleased to add COM503 to our pipeline of investigational immuno-oncology therapies that have the potential to transform care for patients with cancer. 

“We believe that this collaboration complements our strategy of developing modalities which promote immune-mediated tumour killing and may enable new combination therapies with programmes in our growing oncology portfolio.”

Compugen leverages its expertise in predictive computational discovery to detect new treatment targets and biological pathways for designing cancer immunotherapies. 

Compugen president and CEO Anat Cohen-Dayag stated: “We are delighted to enter into this collaboration with Gilead and believe that Gilead’s confidence in our differentiated approach to harness cytokine biology for cancer therapeutics speaks to the quality of our computational discovery capabilities, as well as our ability to translate our novel discoveries into investigational drugs in the clinic and we look forward to working together to bring new treatment options to patients.”

In October 2023, Gilead signed a 12-year partnership deal with Assembly Biosciences to progress the research and development of new antiviral treatments.