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Gilead (GILD) Exercises Option to License Nurix's Candidate

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Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Free Report) announced that it has exercised its option to exclusively license Nurix Therapeutics’ (NRIX - Free Report) investigational targeted protein degrader molecule NX 0479.

Both companies announced a global strategic collaboration in 2019 to discover, develop and commercialize a pipeline of innovative targeted protein degradation drugs for cancer patients and other challenging diseases.

Bivalent degrader NX 0479, designated as GS-6791, is the first development candidate resulting from this collaboration.

The GS-6791 is a potent, selective, oral IRAK4 degrader that targets both the scaffold and kinase functions of the IRAK4 protein kinase to block inflammatory responses downstream of toll-like receptors (TLR) and the pro-inflammatory IL1 cytokine family of receptors (IL1Rs). The IRAK4 degradation has potential applications in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Per the terms for the NX-0479 option that Gilead is exercising, Nurix will receive an option exercise payment of $20 million and could receive up to an additional $425 million in milestone payments, as well as up to low double-digit tiered royalties on product net sales.

Investors of the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Nurix are pleased about the cash inflow from the option exercise and shares of the company were up following the announcement.

Gilead is looking to diversify in the lucrative oncology space. The oncology business put up a stellar performance in 2022 and fueled the top line. The Cell Therapy franchise, comprising Yescarta and Tecartus, saw its sales increase by 68% from a year ago to $1.5 billion in 2022, primarily due to higher demand for Yescarta in R/R LBCL as well as Tecartus in R/R ALL and MCL.

The uptake of the breast cancer drug Trodelvy has been strong in 2022. Trodelvy sales increased 79% in 2022 from 2021, reflecting continued adoption in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (“TNBC”) in the United States and Europe.

Shares of Gilead gained 31.8% in the past year against the industry’s decline of 15.8%.


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Gilead is making efforts to strengthen its pipeline in this space through strategic collaborations. It earlier entered a strategic collaboration with Arcellx, Inc. to co-develop and co-commercialize CART-ddBMCA, a late-stage clinical asset in development for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Gilead also entered into an agreement to acquire Tmunity Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage private biotech company, which will provide its wholly owned company Kite with preclinical and clinical programs, including an “armored” CAR T technology platform that has the potential to be applied to a variety of CAR Ts to enhance anti-tumor activity, as well as rapid manufacturing processes.

Meanwhile, Gilead has a strong HIV portfolio with Biktarvy and Descovy. Biktarvy remains the leading treatment for those seeking to switch to a new regimen in the United States, as well as those starting treatments in both the United States and Europe.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Gilead currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Some better-ranked stocks in the overall healthcare sector are Novo Nordisk (NVO - Free Report) and Ligand Therapeutics (LGND - Free Report) , both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 at present.

In the past 30 days, estimates for Novo Nordisk’s 2023 earnings per share have risen from $4.20 to $4.43. Estimates for 2024 have increased 29 cents to $5.19.

Ligand’s earnings per share estimates for 2023 increased to $4.32 from $3.30 in the past 30 days. LGND beat earnings estimates in one of the last four reported quarters.


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