Gilead Sciences has signed an exclusive licensing deal worth up to $805m with Jounce Therapeutics for the latter's immunotherapy candidate JTX-1811.
JTX-1811, which is a monoclonal antibody, is said to have been designed by Jounce Therapeutics to preferentially deplete immunosuppressive tumour-infiltrating T regulatory (TITR) cells.
The immunotherapy candidate’s target is CCR8, which is a chemokine receptor enriched on TITR cells.
According to Gilead Sciences, when the monoclonal antibody binds to CCR8, it targets TITR cells for depletion by boosting antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity mechanism.
Gilead Sciences said that JTX-1811 continues to be on track for the submission of an investigational new drug (IND) application in the first half of next year.
Jounce Therapeutics will lead the development of the monoclonal antibody through IND clearance, after which Gilead Sciences will have the exclusive right to develop it.
JTX-1811 is yet to be approved anywhere across the world and its efficacy and safety have not been determined to date.
Gilead Sciences research executive vice president William Lee said: “We are very pleased to add, upon closing of the transaction, JTX-1811 to our pipeline of investigational immuno-oncology therapies that have the potential to transform care for patients with cancer.
“JTX-1811 is complementary to our other oncology candidates and has the potential to be first in a new class of therapies as a treatment for people with both solid tumors and hematological malignancies.”
As per the deal terms, Gilead Sciences will pay $85m upfront, and a $35m equity investment in Jounce Therapeutics upon closing of the deal.
Apart from that, Jounce Therapeutics can get payments up to $685m based on future clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones. The company also stands to earn royalties ranging from high single-digit to mid-teens depending on global sales, which will be subject to some adjustments.
Jounce Therapeutics CEO and president Richard Murray said: “Gilead’s investment in Jounce and, specifically, JTX-1811 reinforces the value of our Translational Science Platform and differentiated and sustainable approach to novel immuno-oncology programs, focused on patients with cancer who have yet to benefit from immunotherapy. We look forward to seeing JTX-1811 progress to the clinic.”
The deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions which include applicable antitrust clearance under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, is anticipated to be closed in the second half of 2020.