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Gilead (GILD) Inks Deal for Gene Platform in Blood Cancers

Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s GILD wholly owned subsidiary, Kite, announced that it has entered into an exclusive, worldwide license agreement with the California-based privately held company, Refuge Biotechnologies, Inc. to develop treatments for blood cancers.

With this deal, Kite is looking to gain exclusive rights to use Refuge’s proprietary gene expression platform for developing potential treatments targeting various types of blood cancers.

Refuge will retain all rights and programs related to solid tumor indications.

Per the agreement, Kite will make an undisclosed amount of upfront payment to Refuge while the latter will also be eligible to receive potential milestone payments. Kite will solely bear all costs and activities related to the research, development and commercialization of the product.

The deal looks like a good strategic fit for GILD as it will able to use Refuge’s unique platform, which, coupled with its own expertise and research capabilities, should help the company in developing a new generation of CAR T-cell products for blood cancer patients.

Shares of Gilead have lost 8.9% so far this year compared with the industry’s dedcline of 27.2%.

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Gilead is looking to boost its portfolio and pipeline through deals and acquisitions. The company is also looking to expand beyond antivirals into other therapeutic areas.

Earlier this month, Gilead entered into an exclusive option and collaboration agreement with the Maryland-based biopharmaceutical company, MacroGenics, Inc. MGNX, to develop bispecific antibodies.

With the deal, the companies are looking to develop MGD024, an investigational, bispecific antibody that has been developed using MacroGenics’ DART platform and two other additional bispecific research programs.

MGD024 is currently being evaluated in a phase I study by MGNX for treating various types of hematologic malignancies, including acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. The deal is likely to boost GILD’s immuno-oncology and growing hematology portfolio.

We believe that the company will continue to pursue such lucrative deals to grow its pipeline and diversify its portfolio of drugs.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Gilead currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector are Akero Therapeutics, Inc. AKRO and Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Inc. AGLE, both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Loss per share estimates for Akero Therapeutics narrowed 6.9% for 2022 and 4.8% for 2023 in the past 60 days.

Earnings of Akero Therapeutics surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed on the other occasion. AKRO delivered an earnings surprise of 7.66%, on average.

Loss per share estimates for Aeglea BioTherapeutics narrowed 3.5% for 2022 and 1.2% for 2023 in the past 60 days.

Earnings of Aeglea BioTherapeutics surpassed estimates in one of the trailing four quarters and missed on the other three occasions. AGLE delivered a negative earnings surprise of 3.34%, on average.

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