Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Gilead Sciences Bets $275 Million on an Oncology Start-Up

By Cory Renauer – Updated Jun 23, 2020 at 5:43PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Gilead will take a chance on privately held Pionyr Immunotherapeutics and its unique cancer treatment candidates.

Gilead Sciences (GILD 0.33%) expanded its cancer immunotherapy footprint on Tuesday with a large investment into a privately held biotechnology company called Pionyr Immunotherapeutics. Gilead spent $275 million up front for a 49.9% equity stake and an exclusive option to acquire the rest of the company if potential new cancer immunotherapies in pre-clinical stage development succeed in clinical trials. 

Myeloid tuning 

Pionyr has two antibodies in pre-clinical stage development designed to boost the immune system's response to tumors. PY314 targets TREM2, a protein commonly found on the surface of myeloid cells that suppress anti-tumor activity. PY159 targets TREM1, another protein found on a wider variety of immune cells that suppress the immune system from battling cancer.

Person with a stack of banknotes making it rain.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's going to be a long time before we know if this solution that appears to work in laboratories has a chance in the real world. These treatment candidates haven't been given to actual patients, and Pionyr doesn't plan to file the required investigational new drug applications until the third quarter of the year.

Options ahead

If the Food and Drug Administration gives Pionyr's candidates a green light, clinical trials with PY314 and PY159 could commence in early 2021. If Gilead likes what it sees during phase 1 studies with either one of Pionyr's candidates, the big biotech can exercise an exclusive option to acquire the rest of the company.

Gilead's famous for antiviral treatments for infectious diseases, including remdesivir for COVID-19, but this isn't the company's first oncology deal. Earlier this year, Gilead acquired Forty Seven for $4.9 billion, and in 2017, the company splashed out with the $11.9 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma.

Cory Renauer owns shares of Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
GILD
$62.55 (0.33%) $0.20

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
327%
 
S&P 500 Returns
105%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.