Gilead Sciences to acquire startup that develops cell therapy for cancer

Wendell Lim				Courtesy of UCSF

Wendell Lim Courtesy of UCSF

Foster City's Gilead Sciences announced Thursday that it plans to acquire Emeryville startup Cell Design Labs for up to $587 million.

The deal strengthens Gilead's focus on CAR-T drugs, a new class of cancer therapies that involve genetically modifying a patient's own immune cells to better recognize and attack cancer.

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Gilead will acquire all outstanding Cell Design Labs shares, including the 12.2% that are now held by Kite. Cell Design Labs is developing therapies for prostate cancer and multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma cells.

The agreement includes an initial upfront payment of approximately $175 million, subject to certain adjustments, and additional payments of up to $322 million that will be paid to the shareholders of Cell Design Labs other than Kite upon the occurrence of certain events, including the achievement of development and approval milestones.

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In August, Novartis AG's Kymriah became the first CAR-T cell therapy to get USA approval, signaling a new era in the treatment of cancer.

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