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Gilead (GILD) Inks License Deal with Xencor for HIV Candidate

Zacks Equity Research

Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD entered into a license agreement with clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, Xencor, Inc. XNCR.

Per the technology license agreement, Gilead will access Xencor’s Xtend and Cytotoxic XmAb Fc technologies for developing and commercializing its candidate, GS-9722.

GS-9722 is a first-in-class, effector-enhanced, broadly neutralizing, anti-HIV antibody, which is currently in phase I.

Xencor’s Xtend XmAb Fc domains enhance circulating half-life by increasing binding affinity to the receptor, FcRn. Xencor’s Cytotoxic XmAb Fc domain is designed to improve the immune system’s elimination of tumor and other pathologic cells by antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC).

Per the agreement, Xencor has granted Gilead an exclusive license for GS-9722 and up to three additional anti-HIV antibodies. Xencor retains the right to grant licenses for other antibodies directed to the target. Gilead will be solely responsible for the activities and costs related to research, development, regulatory and commercial activities. Xencor will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive milestones and royalties for the successful development and commercialization of these products.

Xencor’s plug-and-play antibody engineering platform enables selective licensing of its Fc domain technologies to partners to improve drug candidate properties in their antibody development programs.

Gilead’s stock has gained 4.3% in the past three months compared with the industry's growth of 21.6%.

 

The company’s efforts to develop its HIV portfolio is impressive.  The massive decline in sales of the HCV franchise has propelled Gilead to focus on its HIV franchise, Yescarta and other newer avenues. The rapid adoption of Biktarvy continues in the HIV space amid stiff competition from the likes of GlaxoSmithKline GSK. Gilead’s intention to foray into the inflammation market to diversify the revenue base is encouraging as well.

Zacks Rank & Another Stock to Consider

Gilead currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another similar-ranked stock in the biotech space is Alexion Pharmaceuticals ALXN. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Earnings estimates for 2019 have increased 30 cents for Alexion in the past 90 days.

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