Gilead, Compugen Ink Potential $848M Deal for Preclinical Immunotherapy

Gilead HQ Silicon Valley

Pictured: Gilead sign and building in Silicon Valley/iStock, Sundry Photography

Gilead Sciences is making a $60 million upfront payment as part of an exclusive license agreement for one of Compugen’s assets in a deal valued at $848 million, the companies announced Tuesday.

Under the agreement, Gilead will exclusively license a preclinical antibody asset from Compugen that acts against the Il-18 binding protein, as well as the Israeli biotech’s COM503 drug candidate designed to block the interaction between IL-18 binding proteins and IL-18, releasing natural IL-18 into a tumor to stop cancer growth.

“IL-18 is one of the rare cytokines which is naturally inhibited by an endogenous binding protein, presenting a unique opportunity to use a blocking antibody to increase the local concentrations of IL-18 within the tumor where it can potentiate anti-tumor immune responses, thereby potentially overcoming the limitations of systemically administered cytokines,” Compugen CEO Anat Cohen-Dayag said in a statement.

Compugen will remain responsible for the preclinical development and eventual Phase I study of the asset. After that, Gilead will have the right to further develop and commercialize the COM503 candidate.

In addition to the upfront payment of $60 million, a $30 million milestone payment will be available to Compugen related to the IND clearance of COM503, which is expected to be completed in 2024. Compugen is also eligible for an additional $758 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments and single-digit to low double-digit royalties on net sales globally for the asset.

Compugen’s share price jumped 169% before the opening bell on Tuesday morning.

Gilead has been working hard on the deal front in 2023. In November, through its subsidiary Kite, the company decided to widen its collaboration with Arcellx. The two companies will evaluate the cell therapy CART-ddBCMA as a lymphoma treatment. Kite is also beginning to negotiate a license for an additional multiple myeloma program from Arcellx. Gilead’s Kite made an upfront payment of $85 million in the deal. 

In September, Gilead closed its $405 million acquisition of U.K.-based MiroBio, which is focused on restoring immune balance with agonists targeting immune inhibitory receptors. The buy provides Gilead with MiroBio’s proprietary discovery platform and portfolio of immune inhibitory receptor agonists.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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