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Gilead, oNKo-innate Look To Natural Killer Cells For New Cancer Treatment

Gilead Sciences (GILD) and its Kite unit have entered into a three-year cancer immunotherapy research collaboration with oNKo-innate. The goal: to discover and develop next-generation drug and engineered cell therapies focused on natural killer (NK) cells.

Current cancer immunotherapy approaches primarily focus on T cell mediated anti-tumor immunity. Like T cells, NK cells are a class of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that play a critical role in the immune system. Both NK cells and T cells each have the potential to attack cancer cells, but each have different mechanisms for tumor cell killing.

According to Gilead, appropriately activated and targeted NK cells may represent a differentiated approach that would be potentially complementary and synergistic with T cell mediated strategies.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but oNKo-innate will receive an upfront payment and potential additional payments based on achievement of certain milestones.

Specifically, oNKo-innate will use genome-wide screening techniques and its proprietary technology platform to discover novel immune cell targets that enhance NK cell anti-tumor immunity and to create NK cell therapies.

Overall GILD shows a Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating with an average analyst price target of $77. With the stock now trading at $78, this price target indicates that shares could pull back by 1.5% over the coming months. (See Gilead Sciences stock analysis on TipRanks).

GILD stock has soared 21% year-to-date, with excitement over its potential coronavirus vaccine remdesivir pushing shares higher. However this has led some analysts to warn that the stock has moved too far, too fast.

“While we are encouraged by the latest anecdotal updates, we no longer see favorable risk/reward in shares given continued uncertainty around the remdesivir commercial opportunity,” commented BMO Capital analyst Matthew Luchini as he recently downgraded Gilead from buy to hold.

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Harriet Lefton
Harriet Lefton, originally from the UK, began her career as a journalist specialising in the niche world of metal markets. She graduated from the University of Cambridge before becoming a qualified UK lawyer. Now she has turned her attention to the world of financial blogging, covering US stocks, analysts and all manner of things finance-related.

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