Gilead Sciences has partnered with Austria-based biotechnology company Hookipa Biotech to develop new immunotherapy treatments for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections.

The research collaboration and licence agreement provides Gilead with exclusive rights to Hookipa’s TheraT and Vaxwave arenavirus vector-based immunisation technologies.

As per terms of the deal, Gilead will pay $10m upfront along with more than $400m in specified development, regulatory and commercial milestone-based payments. Hookipa may additionally get tiered net sales royalties.

Gilead Sciences, Research executive vice-president Bill Lee said: “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.

“Our ultimate long-term goal is to eliminate the need for life-long antiviral therapy for millions of patients around the world.”

“Gilead is the ideal partner for us to drive our pipeline development in this area for the benefit of patients in need.”

Under the agreement, the companies will jointly carry out the research. Hookipa will manufacture the arenavirus vector candidates for clinical development by Gilead, while Gilead will be responsible for funding the entire research and development activities.

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Hookipa Biotech CEO Joern Aldag said: “Gilead, a world leader in innovative therapies against major viral diseases, is the ideal partner for us to drive our pipeline development in this area for the benefit of patients in need.

“This partnership is strong recognition of our unique immunisation technology, and helps us concentrate our own energy and resources on immuno-oncology.”

Hookipa expects the new HIV and HBV programmes to complement its infectious disease portfolio, which includes a prophylactic cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine.