Gilead is looking for another shot at treating rheumatoid arthritis after its massive Galapagos deal fell flat in the face of an FDA rejection and, more recently, a withdrawn Phase I of another asset for the inflammatory disease.
The California biopharma, coming off a strong finish to 2022 with an FDA approval and an immunotherapy buyout, is linking arms with a Michigan upstart already allied with Amgen on autoimmune assets.
Gilead said Tuesday morning it will dole out up to $658.5 million in upfront, option and biobuck payments to EVOQ Therapeutics. A breakdown of the financing structure was kept under wraps.
In the deal with Gilead, EVOQ will work with its partner on preclinical development of a new treatment for RA and lupus. Gilead can then exclusively license the rights to the so-called NanoDisc technology for those indications and will be responsible for the trials and commercialization.
The Ann Arbor-based biotech, with technology licensed from the University of Michigan and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, aims to target dendritic cells to boost the immune system’s tolerance.
Aside from the $240 million Amgen collaboration announced in early 2021, EVOQ also teamed up with JDRF last month to develop a new platform technology for Type 1 diabetes. The Amgen pact is ongoing, an EVOQ spokesperson confirmed to: Endpoints News: via email.
The partnership adds a piece to Gilead’s inflammatory pipeline, which suffered a major setback in 2020 after the FDA issued a complete response letter to the company’s approval application for filgotinib, a candidate from Galapagos that CEO Daniel O’Day had hoped would be a boon to the drugmaker’s portfolio. Galapagos leads the development of filgotinib, which is approved in the UK, EU and Japan as Jyseleca.
Then there were other setbacks last year. Gilead withdrew a Phase I study of a new inflammatory disease asset, known as GS-5718, in patients with RA. The biopharma also terminated an early-stage study of the IRAK4 inhibitor in patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus, according to a November 2022 update to the federal clinical trials database.
Gilead also previously teamed up with Google’s Verily in 2018 to find the drivers of RA, inflammatory bowel disease and lupus-mediated diseases.