Gilead scoops up Nurix’s IRAK4 degrader for up to $445M, plucking first fruit grown from 2019 collab

Gilead scoops up Nurix’s IRAK4 degrader for up to $445M, plucking first fruit grown from 2019 collab

The business bond between Gilead and Nurix took a notable step forward after the San Diego pharma bought into the first licensing option stemming from a 2019 collaboration.

The decision gives Gilead exclusive rights to Nurix’s IRAK4 degrader, NX-0479, in exchange for $20 million in upfront cash and with $425 million in biobucks on the table, according to an announcement Monday. It’s the first target that Gilead has signed onto stemming from a June 2019 agreement with Nurix, with Gilead offering up to $2.35 billion in exchange for five protein degrader targets.

NX-0479—now known as GS-6791—aims to block downstream inflammatory receptors including toll-like receptors and IL1 cytokine family of receptors by degrading IRAK4, an activator of the receptors. Protein degradation dissolves potentially problematic proteins by linking them to ubiquitin ligase, spurring protein degradation and turnover. Nurix said in its announcement that IRAK4 degradation could be used to treat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

A lot of the interest in protein degradation has centered on the modality’s use to treat cancer, given the bevy of proteins of interest that could be targeted. And 2022 was a significant year with respect to new licensing deals, with Big Pharmas expanding their footprint. Amgen is arguably at the forefront, with protein degrading guru Ray Deshaies leading global research. But Lilly, Merck KGaA and Bristol Myers Squibb also inked deals of their own.

Sanofi is also hot on the IRAK4 trail, after buying into Kymera Therapeutics’ protein degrading tech in December 2022 on the heels of encouraging phase 1 data. The French Pharma paid $150 million upfront for global rights to clinical asset KT-474.

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