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Gilead and Merus to collaborate to discover novel antibody-based trispecific T-cell engagers

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Gilead Sciences and Merus have announced a research collaboration, option and license agreement to discover novel dual tumor-associated antigens (TAA) targeting trispecific antibodies. Gilead and Merus agreed to collaborate on the use of Merus’ proprietary Triclonics® platform along with Gilead’s oncology expertise to research and develop multiple, separate preclinical research programs.

Merus is a clinical-stage oncology company developing innovative, full-length, multispecific antibodies (Biclonics® and Triclonics®), referred to together as Multiclonics®, that are generated by a proprietary common light chain technology. The Triclonics® or trispecific platform provides the unique opportunity to design antibodies capable of simultaneously binding to three targets at once.

“We have seen the successful application of bispecific antibodies as an immune-modulating modality used to treat cancer. We are now looking ahead to the development of additional multispecific antibodies capable of driving robust anti-tumor immune responses with an improved efficacy and safety profile,” said Flavius Martin, M.D., Executive Vice President, Research, Gilead Sciences.

“We are excited to explore the potential of Merus’ differentiated Triclonics® platform to discover and advance transformative new cancer therapies as we deepen our portfolio across oncology indications.”

“We are looking forward to working with Gilead to develop novel T-cell engager antibodies using our Triclonics® technology,” said Hui Liu, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Chief Business Officer & Head of Merus US.

“We are grateful for our collaborations which represent opportunities for Merus to leverage our research capabilities to pursue innovative biology and to address significant unmet medical needs. Importantly, this collaboration represents the first for our proprietary Triclonics® platform.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Merus will lead early-stage research activities for two programs, with an option to pursue a third. Gilead will have the right to license programs developed under the collaboration after the completion of select research activities.

If Gilead exercises its option to license any such program from the collaboration, Gilead will be responsible for additional research, development and commercialization activities for such program. Merus will receive an upfront cash payment of $56 million for initial targets as well as an equity investment by Gilead of $25 million in Merus common shares.

Across all potential programs, Merus is also eligible to receive up to $1.5 billion including additional near term and option payments, potential development and commercialization milestones, as well as tiered royalties ranging from the mid-single to low-double digits on product sales should Gilead successfully commercialize a therapy from the collaboration.

For the third potential program, Merus may opt-in to share 50/50 split of net profits and net losses, in lieu of future milestone and royalty payments.

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