Gilead hopes to evoke ideas for new autoimmune treatments with $659M deal

Gilead plans to work with EVOQ Therapeutics to hopefully bring to mind new treatments for autoimmune disorders in a deal worth up to $658.5 million.

The two companies have signed a new licensing deal to work on preclinical development for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Gilead has gained the exclusive right to license EVOQ’s NanoDisc technology to develop the autoimmune candidates.

The $658.5 million includes an upfront payment, option exercise and milestone payments and royalties on eventual sales if a candidate succeeds. While the two companies will collaborate on preclinical work, Gilead will later take over clinical development and commercialization.

EVOQ’s NanoDisc tech helps drive a superior immune response by more effectively delivering antigens to the lymph nodes compared to antigens alone. NanoDiscs are tiny, synthetic, high-density lipoproteins that are loaded up with genetic material from individual patients.

The autoimmune-focused biotech that spun out of the University of Michigan also signed a deal with Amgen in January 2021 worth more than $240 million. The company has flagged multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves' disease, type 1 diabetes and celiac disease as focus areas.

Gilead, meanwhile, has a deep pipeline of autoimmune and inflammatory disease therapies including the phase 1 IRAK4 inhibitors GS-5718 for lupus and GS-5718 for rheumatoid arthritis.