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12:00 AM
 | 
Feb 28, 2011
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Gilead's cancer encore

Gilead's return to cancer: targeted therapies also address inflammation

Gilead Sciences Inc.'s initial dalliance with cancer ended in 2001 when it sold its portfolio of liposomal chemotherapeutics. A decade later, the company is jumping back in, this time by acquiring companies with targeted therapies against novel targets.

Gilead is not detailing its strategy, but all three deals involve programs that address both inflammation and oncology, and appear to include compounds that could be paired in combination regimens.

Gilead's third transaction in eight months was announced last week: a $375 million deal for Calistoga Pharmaceuticals Inc., which has a small molecule phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) delta inhibitor, CAL-101, in Phase II testing for indolent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Gilead acquired Arresto BioSciences Inc. for $225 million in December, and paid an undisclosed amount for CGI Pharmaceuticals Inc. last June.

Gilead's first foray into cancer drug development was its 1999 acquisition of NeXstar Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $550 million in stock.

At the time, Gilead said the primary driver was its desire to move into the cancer space, where the regulatory environment allowed for rapid drug development (see BioCentury Extra, March 2, 1999).

The cancer programs were mostly liposomal formulations of chemotherapeutics. They included DaunoXome liposomal daunorubicin, which was marketed for AIDS/HIV-related Kaposi's sarcoma; NX211, a liposomal camptothecin analog that moved into Phase II testing for solid tumors; and GS7904L, a preclinical...

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