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Gilead, HiFiBiO Collaborate to Develop T-Cell Receptors

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Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Free Report) announced that it entered into a collaboration agreement with HiFiBiO Therapeutics.

Both companies have entered into a research collaboration and license agreement to develop technology, supporting the discovery of neoantigen-reactive T-cell receptors (TCRs) for the potential treatment of various cancers, including solid tumors.

Per the terms, Kite, which was acquired by Gilead in 2017, will adapt HiFiBiO’s proprietary single cell technology platform to create a high throughput approach that will enable in-depth screening of TCR repertoires from patient samples to identify shared antigen and neoantigen TCRs for use in adoptive cellular therapies.

HiFiBiO will receive a $10-million upfront payment along with milestone payments. In exchange, Kite will have an exclusive option to license HiFiBiO’s platform to screen T-cell repertoires and identify TCRs for use in TCR engineered T-cell therapies with a corresponding payment to HiFiBiO.

Given the persistent decline in HCV sales due to competitive pressure from companies like AbbVie, Inc. (ABBV - Free Report) , the company is looking to HIV and newer avenues to boost its top line.

During the first quarter of 2018, Gilead announced an agreement with Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. (SGMO - Free Report) to use Sangamo’s zinc finger nuclease technology platform for the development of next-generation ex vivo cell therapies in oncology.

Earlier this month, Gilead announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration with privately held Precision BioSciences to develop therapies aimed at eliminating hepatitis B virus (HBV) using the latter’s gene editing platform, ARCUS.

Gilead’s stock has gained 13.1% in the year so far against the industry's decline of 2.5%.

 

We note that Gilead acquired Kite Pharma to foray into the emerging field of cell therapy. Kite is a pioneer in cell therapy, having developed engineered cell therapies that express either a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or an engineered T-cell receptor (TCR), depending on the type of cancer. The approval of lead candidate Yescarta, for the treatment of refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which includes diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), transformed follicular lymphoma (TFL) and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), is a significant boost for the company.

Meanwhile, Gilead is a dominant player in the HIV market with an impressive portfolio. However, the company will have to generate substantial revenues from its HIV franchise and Yescarta to offset the HCV sales decline. This will be a challenging task for the company with stiff competition from the likes of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK - Free Report) in the HIV market.

Zacks Rank

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

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