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Gilead and Compugen Collaborate on Cancer Immunotherapy in New Licensing Deal


20 December 2023

Gilead Sciences and Compugen have entered into an exclusive licensing deal for COM503, a novel cancer immunotherapy targeting the IL-18 binding protein. Valued at up to $848 million, under this deal, Compugen will lead the initial development, with Gilead taking over in the later stages.

Gilead Sciences announced an agreement with Compugen, to exclusively license COM503, an antibody targeting IL-18 binding protein. Valued at up to $848 million, including a $60 million upfront payment, the deal focuses on developing and commercializing COM503. This innovative approach, leveraging Compugen's computational discovery, aims to enhance natural IL-18 in tumors, potentially revolutionizing cancer treatment.

Compugen is at the forefront of employing comprehensive predictive computational techniques to unveil novel drug targets and biological pathways, spearheading the development of groundbreaking cancer immunotherapies. Among their discoveries is COM503, a potential first-in-class, high-affinity antibody. This drug candidate uniquely blocks the interaction between IL-18 binding protein and IL-18, subsequently enhancing natural IL-18 in the tumor environment, thereby impeding cancer growth.

Dr. Flavius Martin, Executive Vice President of Research at Gilead Sciences, expressed enthusiasm about integrating COM503 into Gilead’s investigational immuno-oncology pipeline. He highlighted, 

“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 tumor killing and may enable new combination therapies with programs in our growing oncology portfolio.”

Anat Cohen-Dayag, CEO of Compugen, emphasized Gilead's confidence in Compugen's unique approach to leveraging cytokine biology for cancer treatments. She pointed out, 

“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.”

Dynamics of the Partnership

Under the partnership terms, Compugen will spearhead the ongoing pre-clinical development and future Phase 1 study of COM503. Post these phases, Gilead will assume exclusive rights to further develop and market COM503.

The financial contours of this agreement include an upfront payment of $60 million from Gilead to Compugen, alongside a $30 million near-term milestone payment contingent on IND (Investigational New Drug) clearance of COM503, anticipated in 2024. Additionally, Compugen stands to gain up to $758 million in subsequent development, regulatory, and commercial milestones, cumulating in a total deal value of $848 million. The agreement also entitles Compugen to receive royalties on global net sales, ranging from single-digit to low double-digit tiers.

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