Gilead dives deeper into Nurix protein degrader collab, paying $15M for 2-year extension

Gilead Sciences' collaboration with Nurix Therapeutics has already borne fruit in the form of one IRAK4 degrader. Now, the Big Biotech is handing over a further $15 million in the hope that prolonging the partnership will yield further bounty.

Nurix first signed on with Gilead back in 2019 as part of a $2.35 billion biobucks deal centered on five protein degrader targets. A year ago, Gilead paid $20 million for the exclusive license to an IRAK4 degrader, dubbed NX-0479, which had stemmed from the deal.

By extending the collaboration for a further two years, Nurix Chief Scientific Officer Gwenn Hansen, Ph.D., said today that the biotech hopes to deliver further protein degraders to its partner.

“Gilead’s extension of the research period of this agreement is a testament to the productivity of our collaboration to date,” Hansen added in an April 2 release. “Most importantly, it increases the opportunity for additional clinical candidates and associated milestones to emerge from our work together with the Gilead team.”

Financially, the agreement between the two companies has been good to Nurix. As well as a $45 million upfront payment when the deal was signed in 2019, the biotech has since received $70 million that encompasses both milestone payments and the initial license fee for NX-0479.

Today’s announcement will deliver $15 million to Nurix straight away, with north of $2.4 billion in various development and commercial milestones still in play from the original deal.

NX-0479—now known as GS-6791—aims to block downstream inflammatory receptors including toll-like receptors and IL-1 cytokine family of receptors by degrading IRAK4, an activator of the receptors. Protein degradation dissolves potentially problematic proteins by linking them to ubiquitin ligase, spurring protein degradation and turnover. Nurix has previously said that IRAK4 degradation could be used to treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Gilead’s latest show of faith in Nurix is another piece of good news for the biotech this spring. A month ago, the FDA lifted a partial hold on a phase 1 trial of its B-cell malignancy drug NX-2127, which had been stalled by the agency in November 2023 after Nurix flagged that it was planning to improve the therapy’s manufacturing process.

Nurix’s other clinical-stage BTK degrader, NX-5948, is being studied in a phase 1 trial of adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell malignancies. The company expects to expand the study into patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma this year.

In September 2023, Seagen paid $60 million to Nurix to collaborate on degrader-antibody conjugates—a new class of antibody therapies that are also being pursued by the likes of Merck & Co.