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Sangamo in gene-editing deal with Gilead

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Sangamo will receive $150 million upfront and is eligible for up to $3.01 billion in future payments tied to regulatory and other milestones

US drugmaker Gilead Sciences will use Sangamo Therapeutics’ gene-editing technology to develop cancer treatments in a deal potentially worth about $3 billion to Sangamo, the companies said recently.

The deal is the latest by a major drug maker looking to develop lucrative gene therapies that have the potential to treat ailments by directly targeting disease-causing genes.

“These are indeed exciting times in the field of genome-editing and gene therapy,” Sandy Macrae, CEO, Sangamo said on a call with analysts.

In December, Luxturna, a treatment for a rare disease that causes blindness, became the first gene therapy for an inherited disease to get US regulatory approval.

The treatment, developed by Philadelphia-based Spark Therapeutics, is expected to be priced at $850,000.

Gilead subsidiary Kite Pharma will use Sangamo’s platform to target a class of proteins called zinc finger nucleases in order to edit the human genome, helping develop therapies for cancer.

Sangamo will receive $150 million upfront and is eligible for up to $3.01 billion in future payments tied to regulatory and other milestones.

Gilead snapped up Kite Pharma in a $12 billion deal last year as a way to get access to an emerging class of cancer immunotherapies called CAR-T and to offset slowing sales of its hepatitis C medicines.

Other firms specialising in CAR-T such as Juno Therapeutics have signed deals to use another kind of gene-editing technology called CRISPR.

Gilead said earlier this month it would pursue collaborations with companies for gene-editing technology.

“(Gilead) scoured the field,” said Curt Herberts, Sangamo’s chief business officer.

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