Gilead Sciences, Inc. has entered into an agreement with Israeli company Compugen Ltd., a clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy firm, to license a pre-clinical antibody program targeting IL-18 binding protein, including the drug candidate COM503. This collaboration grants Gilead exclusive rights for the later-stage development and commercialization of anti-IL-18 binding protein antibodies that could treat various tumor types.
Compugen, known for its predictive computational discovery skills, has developed COM503—a potential first-in-class, high affinity antibody. This therapeutic blocks the interaction between IL-18 binding protein and IL-18, releasing IL-18 in the tumor microenvironment, which is anticipated to impede cancer growth.
Dr. Flavius Martin from Gilead expressed enthusiasm about integrating COM503 into their immuno-oncology pipeline, which they believe can potentially revolutionize patient care for those living with cancer. Gilead sees this antibody as a potential key player in new combination therapies alongside other programs in their oncology portfolio.
Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., President, and CEO at Compugen, spoke to the confidence Gilead has shown in their ability to discover and develop investigational drugs and outstanding computational capabilities. She highlighted the unique potential of COM503 to increase IL-18 concentrations locally within tumors to prompt anti-tumor immune responses.
As per the partnership agreement, Compugen will oversee the ongoing pre-clinical development and future Phase 1 study of COM503. Once the first phase is completed, Gilead will take over the development and commercialization rights. Compugen will receive an upfront payment of $60 million and an additional $30 million following IND clearance of COM503, anticipated in 2024. Compugen also stands to gain up to $758 million in future milestone payments, which could bring the total deal value to $848 million, along with royalties on global net sales.
Gilead’s commitment reflects the growing significance of immuno-oncology in transforming cancer treatment and displays confidence in potential new therapeutic modalities such as COM503.