Gilead Sciences' Kite unit entered into global collaboration to use Sangamo Therapeutics' zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) technology platform for the development of next-generation ex vivo cell therapies in oncology, the companies announced Thursday. The deal, which includes an upfront payment from Gilead of $150 million, could potentially be worth up over $3 billion to Sangamo across 10 or more products.
According to the drugmakers, Kite will use the ZFN technology to modify genes to develop next-generation cell therapies for autologous and allogeneic use in treating different cancers. Gilead CEO John Milligan commented "we believe Sangamo's zinc finger nucleases provide the optimal gene editing platform."
Under the deal, Kite will hold responsibility for all development, manufacturing and commercialisation activities for products covered included in the agreement, in addition to agreed-upon expenses incurred by Sangamo. Meanwhile, Sangamo, whose shares rose more than 20 percent on the news, will be eligible for tiered royalties on sales of products commercialised under the collaboration.
Gilead entered the cell therapy field last year via its $11.9-billion acquisition  of Kite Pharma, subsequently agreeing  to purchase Cell Design Labs for as much as $567 million. Gilead's CAR-T therapy Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), which was gained via the acquisition of Kite, was authorised  in the US last year for use in certain patients with large B-cell lymphoma.
Yescarta was the second CAR-T approved by the FDA following clearance  of Novartis' therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel). Meanwhile, Celgene recently agreed  to acquire Juno Therapeutics for about $9 billion, gaining the latter's experimental CAR-T therapy JCAR017 (lisocabtagene maraleucel). For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Celgene makes its move in CAR-T .