Gilead to buy Cell Design Labs for up to $567 million: Reuters

Drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O) said on Thursday it was acquiring privately-held Cell Design Labs Inc for up to $567 million, giving it access to new technology platforms that would help in the development of cancer drugs.

The deal strengthens Gilead’s focus on CAR-T drugs, a new class of cancer therapies that involve genetically modifying a patient’s own immune cells to better recognize and attack cancer.

Gilead said it would make an initial upfront payment to Cell Design of about $175 million and additional payments of up to $322 million upon meeting certain milestones.

The transaction includes a 12.2 percent stake in Cell Design held by Kite Pharma Inc, which Gilead bought earlier this year to diversify from its hepatitis C portfolio.

Cell Design is currently developing custom cell engineering technology that Gilead hopes will augment existing research and development programs it acquired through Kite.

Cell Design’s pipeline includes early stage treatments for prostate cancer and a type of blood cancer.

In August, Novartis AG’s (NOVN.S) Kymriah became the first CAR-T cell therapy to get U.S. approval, signaling a new era in the treatment of cancer.

Shares of Gilead rose marginally after the bell.