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Gilead Expands Oncology Collaboration, Makes $145M in Upfront, Equity Payments to Tango Therapeutics

NEW YORK – Gilead Sciences and Tango Therapeutics said on Monday that they are expanding their collaboration to discover, develop, and commercialize targeted immune evasion therapies for cancer patients.

Under the expanded multi-year collaboration, which builds on an agreement signed in 2018, Gilead will make a $125 million upfront payment to Tango and a $20 million equity investment in the company.

Gilead is the newest investor in Tango and participated in a recently closed $50 million equity financing round for the firm led by Casdin Capital, with participation by Boxer Capital of the Tavistock Group and Cormorant Asset Management. The company said it will use the funds to initiate clinical studies of an unspecified lead program in the next 18 months and advance other late-stage drug discovery programs.

"With a unique discovery platform, a precision oncology focus, and a patient first mission, Tango is building a powerful pipeline of targets and programs," Eli Casdin, chief investment officer and founder of Casdin Capital, said in a statement.

Tango, founded in 2017, is focused on discovering and developing drugs that modulate DNA damage repair mechanisms driving cancer by using technology to counteract tumor suppressor gene loss, reverse the ability of cancer cells to evade the immune system, and identify novel combination cancer therapies that may be more potent than monotherapies. The company has raised $165 million in equity financing to date, and under two strategic collaborations with Gilead has received a total of $175 million in upfront payments.

Within the Gilead collaboration, Tango will use its proprietary, CRISPR-enabled functional genomics target discovery platform to identify up to 15 new immune evasion targets, and Gilead will have the option to exercise worldwide rights to programs directed at these targets over the next seven years. Gilead can option to up to 15 programs for up to $410 million per program in opt-in, extension and milestone payments. Tango would be eligible to receive up to low double-digit tiered royalties on net sales on these programs.

Under the agreement, Tango will have the option to co-develop and co-promote the lead products for up to five programs in the US. For products that Tango agrees to co-develop and co-promote, the companies will equally split profits, losses, and development costs in the US. Tango also will receive milestone payments and royalties on sales outside the US.

The collaboration currently excludes Tango's lead programs, including one program that is anticipated to move into investigational new drug application-enabling studies next year. Additionally, Tango retains the rights to identify cancer targets outside the immune evasion space.