Gilead Sciences, Hookipa in $410-Million Partnership for HIV, Hepatitis B Immunotherapies

Jun 13, 2018
By Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

Gilead Sciences and Hookipa Biotech, a clinical-stage biotech company focused on active immunization therapies for oncology and infectious diseases, announced on June 5, 2018 that they have entered into a research collaboration and license agreement that grants Gilead exclusive rights to Hookipa's TheraT and Vaxwave arenavirus vector-based immunization technologies for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Under the terms of the agreement, Gilead will provide an upfront payment of $10 million. The total potential value of the deal exceeds $400 million, including upfront and milestone payments, plus research and development funding. Additionally, Hookipa will be eligible to receive milestone payments based upon the achievement of specified development, regulatory, and commercial milestones up to a total of more than $400 million. Gilead will fund all research and development activities. Hookipa will also be eligible to receive tiered royalties on net sales.

The deal expands the companies’ relationship following Gilead's participation in Hookipa's Series C financing in December 2017.

Hookipa´s Vaxwave technology presents a new replication-defective viral vector platform designed to overcome the limitations of current technologies. Vaxwave is based on lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). In this vector the gene encoding the LCMV envelope protein, normally responsible for virus entry into target cells, has been deleted and replaced with an antigen of interest. The resulting vectors infect dendritic cells and stimulate a very potent and long-lasting immune response; however, they cannot replicate and are therefore non-pathogenic and inherently safe.

Hookipa's TheraT platform is based on an attenuated replicating arenavirus and is capable of eliciting the potent T cell responses—a crucial step in treating patients with aggressive cancers, as stated by Gilead. Pre-clinical data demonstrates that TheraT is capable of turning "cold tumors hot," which should result in an additional layer of efficacy in the fight against solid tumors. TheraT has proven to be capable of eliciting uniquely potent antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T-cell responses and strong tumor control in mice. This immuno-oncology technology is further being leveraged to target tumor self-antigens or shared neoantigens.

"Gilead is committed to advancing innovative approaches directed at functional cures against HIV and HBV," said Bill Lee, PhD, executive vice president of Research, Gilead, in a company press release. "We are convinced that Hookipa's unique therapeutic vaccine technology, which has demonstrated excellent safety and immunogenicity in Phase I clinical studies, has strong potential to have synergistic effect with other Gilead cure efforts in both of these diseases areas.”

Source: Gilead Sciences

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