Gilead Sciences, Second Genome Pair Up in Microbiome Research Pact Worth up to $1.5 Billion


Gilead Sciences and South San Francisco-based Second Genome forged a four-year strategic collaboration worth more than $1.5 billion that will boost chances to discover and develop new targets and drug candidates for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease through microbiome research.

Additionally, the deal will call for the companies to work together to identify biomarkers associated with clinical response in up to five of Gilead’s pipeline compounds in inflammation, fibrosis and other diseases. To do so, Second Genome will utilize its proprietary Microbiome Analytics Platform to identify novel biomarkers associated with clinical response to Gilead’s investigational medicines.

The companies anticipate that the analytics platform will provide the latest insights in microbiome science to help “inform patient stratification and optimize potential treatments for patients in the future.”

In the announcement, the companies added that the analytics platform, in combination with additional discovery and development tools, will also seek to identify new targets and drug candidates relevant to IBD. This includes the identification of up to five novel IBD targets or drug candidates over the next four years, with an option to extend the collaboration for an additional two years, the companies said.

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William Lee, head of research and development at Gilead Sciences, said there is growing evidence that that the microbiome plays an important role in disease progression and treatment response in inflammatory diseases.

“We look forward to working with Second Genome to investigate the microbiome’s role in inflammatory disease and particularly IBD, where patients can face significant challenges in achieving long-term remission with conventional therapies. This collaboration is the latest example of Gilead’s ongoing commitment to advance research in inflammatory diseases, combining external innovation and insights from Second Genome with our own expertise, as we work to bring forward transformative therapies to improve patient outcomes,” Lee said in a statement.

Under terms of the deal, Gilead will pay Second Genome $38 million upfront. The South San Francisco-based company can earn up to approximately $300 million in success-based preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones for each of five target discovery programs as well as low double-digit royalties for any approved products. Gilead will have the option to worldwide rights for up to five programs for all diseases as well as exclusive rights to all biomarkers developed under the collaboration.

Second Genome Chief Executive Officer Karim Dabbagh said his company’s analytics platform seeks to “redefine diseases through the lens of the microbiome” as they identify the potential biomarkers and new therapeutics.

“We believe the microbiome holds insight into patient heterogeneity as well as response to specific therapies. These differences enable the identification of important biomarkers to enhance precision medicine for better patient segmentation as well as potential combination therapies. We are excited to be collaborating with Gilead using these approaches in IBD for new biomarkers as well as target and drug candidate discovery, driving toward improved clinical outcomes for patients,” Dabbagh said in a statement.


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