December 20, 2018 / 1:02 PM / 5 months ago

Agenus shares soar after cancer therapy deal with Gilead

FILE PHOTO: A Gilead Sciences, Inc. logo is seen outside the company headquarters in Foster City, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

(Reuters) - Shares of Agenus Inc surged as much as 70 percent on Thursday after the company said it would develop and market up to five of its immuno-oncology therapies in partnership with Gilead Sciences Inc.

Agenus will get an upfront cash payment of $120 million and a $30 million equity investment, and will also be eligible to receive about $1.7 billion in potential fees and milestones, the companies said in a statement.

Gilead will get worldwide exclusive rights to Agenus’ AGEN1423; an option to license two other programs, AGEN1223 and AGEN2373, and the right of first negotiation for two additional, undisclosed preclinical programs.

“Our collaboration with Agenus gives us access to novel and differentiated immune modulating antibodies that will complement our growing oncology portfolio and cell therapy business,” said Gilead’s Chief Scientific Officer John McHutchison.

The deal provides Agenus with sufficient capital to develop its wholly owned cancer drug assets, William Blair analyst Matt Phipps said.

The announcement comes a day after Swiss biotechnology company Molecular Partners signed a deal with Amgen Inc to work together in cancer immunotherapy.

Agenus’ shares pared some gains and were trading up 57 percent at $3.16 in trading before the bell.

Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila

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