USA – ViiV Healthcare, the global specialist HIV company majority owned by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to collaborate with Shionogi on the development of ultra-long acting HIV drugs that could be administered as little as four times a year, potentially revolutionizing HIV treatment.

GSK’s VIV has also developed the long-acting HIV injection Cabenuva, which combines cabotegravir with Janssen’s rilpivirine, as well as another combination therapy of dolutegravir and lamivudine, which is administered once every one or two months.

Cabenuva is indicated as a complete regimen for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection in adults, to replace the current antiretroviral regimen in persons who have suppressed viral load, a stable antiretroviral regimen, have no history of treatment failure, and have no known or suspected resistance to cabotegravir or rilpivirine.

Currently, the vast majority of people living with HIV take an oral combination of well-tolerated and effective drugs on a daily basis.

ViiV’s pact with Japan’s Shionogi portends another major breakthrough in the fight against HIV, as the drugmaker seeks to build on the success of its previous long-acting therapies.

The British pharmaceutical company will pay £20 million ($27.36 million) in advance payment to Shionogi, with an additional £15 million ($20.3 million) payable upon completion of development milestones for therapy, plus royalties on net sales.

Shionogi will contribute to development costs up to an annual maximum. Additionally, the drug is the commencement of human trials for the drug is projected to begin in 2023.

Kimberly Smith, head of R&D at ViiV, said successful development of the molecule, called S-365598, could eventually lead to twice-yearly treatment for HIV.

The combination inhibits viral replication, reducing the viral load in the blood to undetectable levels and allowing patients to live normal, healthy lives with little medical intervention.

People living with HIV who have undetectable viral loads cannot pass it on as a result of effective treatment.

According to the World Health Organization, there were approximately 1.5 million new HIV infections worldwide in 2020, with approximately 38 million people living with HIV at the end of last year.

ViiV’s is not the only entity in the industry. Rival Gilead partnered with Merck earlier this year to test a combination of their experimental HIV drugs as a long-acting treatment for the AIDS-causing virus.

Longer-acting drugs can reduce the compliance issues that can arise from forgetting to take drugs on a daily basis, limiting the chances of developing resistance.

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