ViiV Signs Licensing Deal for Halozyme's Tech to Create Long-Acting HIV Drugs


Biopharmaceutical and global HIV specialist company ViiV Healthcare has signed a collaboration and license deal with Halozyme Therapeutics to use the latter's ENHANZE drug delivery technology to treat and prevent HIV. Halozyme opens up plenty of potential pharmacological wins for ViiV Healthcare, particularly in the development of ultra-long acting HIV drugs that can be administered every three to six months, or much longer. 

In a press release, Halozyme revealed that ViiV will pay $40 million upfront for the exclusive license to four small and large molecule targets and then pay the remaining $175 million in milestones. The agreement also gives Halozyne mid-single digit royalties from the sales of drugs produced using ENHANZE.

The technology's main selling point is its ability to develop ultra-long acting HIV medicines with its current and incoming lineup of products. The doses will reportedly be given in intervals of three months and higher. ViiV Healthcare is expected to make its first payment by the end of 2021 for cabotegravir, a long-acting drug designed to prevent HIV. The current dosage for cabotegravir is every two months. 

The license gives ViiV Healthcare exclusive use of Halozyme's rHuPH20 technology for four HIV drug targets, which could later lead to the enhancement of ViiV's other products in the pipeline. ENHANZE works by breaking down hyaluronan (HA), a substance found under the skin, and works as a barrier to stop the excessive flow of liquid. 

By breaking HA temporarily, large volumes of fluid can be injected subcutaneously and spread, thereby optimizing and speeding up the distribution of medicine to the body. After 24 to 48 hours, the HA goes back to normal.

"This collaboration demonstrates the potential value of our technology to facilitate rapid, large volume subcutaneous injections of not just traditional medicines, but also long-acting injectables, which may further extend dosing intervals for people taking medicines for HIV," said Halozyme president and chief executive officer Helen Torley, MB, Ch, B, MRCP. 

Viiv is not the first pharma company that Halozyme has licensed its technology to prevent and treat many serious conditions, including autoimmune and infectious diseases. Many of the drugs developed using ENHANZE are now being used in immune deficiency and oncology applications.

ViiV Healthcare, created through a joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer in 2009, is one of the largest creators of HIV drugs in the world, accounting for about one-fifth of the global HIV therapeutics market.

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