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FOSTER CITY, Calif. & SAN FRANCISCO—Gilead Sciences Inc. and Nurix Therapeutics Inc., a company discovering drugs that harness the body’s natural process to control protein levels, announced recently a global strategic collaboration to discover, develop and commercialize a pipeline of innovative targeted protein degradation drugs for patients with cancer and other challenging diseases.
As the companies note, dysregulated and/or mutated proteins play a central role in the development and progression of many human diseases. Nurix’s technology platform is focused on the manipulation of the ubiquitin system and its component E3 ligases, the key enzymes responsible for controlling protein levels in human cells.
Under the multiyear collaboration, Nurix will utilize its proprietary drug discovery platform to identify novel agents that utilize E3 ligases to induce degradation of specified drug targets, and Gilead will have an option to license drug candidates directed to up to five targets resulting from the work. Nurix will retain the option to co-develop and co-detail up to two programs in the United States. The collaboration excludes Nurix’s lead degradation program, for which Nurix retains all rights.
“There are many molecular targets involved in disease pathways that have traditionally been challenging to manipulate using conventional approaches,” said Dr. John McHutchison, chief scientific officer and head of research and development for Gilead Sciences. “Nurix’s innovative protein degradation discovery technology provides Gilead with a new strategy to interrogate these drug targets, as we continue to build a pipeline of small-molecule therapeutics for patients with cancers and other diseases.”
“Gilead is an ideal partner to help us bring potentially transformative treatments to patients,” added Dr. Arthur T. Sands, Nurix’s CEO. “This partnership expands our ability to build our pipeline of novel targeted protein degradation drugs based on our established expertise in the field of protein homeostasis, while we continue to independently advance our lead programs into the clinic.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Nurix will receive an upfront payment of $45 million and will be eligible to receive up to approximately $2.3 billion in total additional payments based on the successful completion of certain research, preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercialization milestones, as well as up to low double-digit tiered royalties on net sales. For those programs that Nurix opts in to co-develop and co-detail, the parties will split development costs as well as profits and losses 50/50 for the United States, and Nurix will be eligible to receive royalties on ex-U.S. sales and reduced milestone payments.
Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead Sciences is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes medicines in areas of unmet medical need, boasting operations in more than 35 countries worldwide. San Francisco-based Nurix discovers drugs that harness the body’s natural process to control protein levels, and its pipeline is focused on developing drugs as treatments for hematologic cancers and immune-mediated diseases, including immuno-oncology therapeutics for cancer. Nurix was founded by internationally recognized experts in E3 ligase biology and immunology and is funded by leading life science investors Third Rock Ventures and The Column Group.