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Gilead Sciences is partnering with Nurix Therapeutics to discover, develop and commercialise a pipeline of innovative targeted protein degradation drugs for patients with cancer and other challenging diseases.

Dysregulated and/or mutated proteins play a central role in the development and progression of many human diseases.

Nurix’s technology platform is focused on the manipulation of the ubiquitin system and its component E3 ligases, the key enzymes responsible for controlling protein levels in human cells.

The agreement will see Nurix utilise its proprietary drug discovery platform to identify novel agents that utilise E3 ligases to induce degradation of specified drug targets.

Gilead will have an option to license drug candidates directed to up to five targets resulting from the work.

Nurix will retain the option to co-develop and co-detail up to two programs in the United States. The collaboration excludes Nurix’s lead degradation program, for which Nurix retains all rights.

John McHutchison, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development at Gilead Sciences, said: “Nurix’s innovative protein degradation discovery technology provides Gilead with a new strategy to interrogate these drug targets, as we continue to build a pipeline of small molecule therapeutics for patients with cancers and other diseases.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Nurix will receive an upfront payment of $45 million and will be eligible to receive up to approximately $2.3 billion in total additional payments based on the successful completion of certain research, pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercialisation milestones as well as up to low double-digit tiered royalties on net sales.

For those programs that Nurix opts in to co-develop and co-detail, the parties will split development costs as well as profits and losses 50/50 for the US, and Nurix will be eligible to receive royalties on ex-US sales and reduced milestone payments.