Gilead is stepping into the field of epigenetics with a $65-million purchase of private Danish group EpiTherapeutics. 

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression caused by factors other than alterations to the underlying DNA sequence. 

EpiTherapeutics has built a library of first-in-class, selective small molecule inhibitors of epigenetic regulation of gene transcription, with lead preclinical compounds currently being studied in certain cancers.

“This therapeutic class represents a strategic fit with our existing research portfolio, including the potential for novel combination approaches,” said Gilead’s chief scientific officer, explaining his firm’s interest in the deal.

From the other side, EpiTherapeutics’ chief executive Martin Bonde said the move will give the company’s discoveries “the best chance to be developed into therapies that will benefit patients”.