Infectious Disease

Gilead, Merck Partner in Developing a Long-lasting Two-Drug HIV Regimen

March 15, 2021

1 min read

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Disclosure:
Frazier is an employee of Merck and O’Day is an employee of Gilead Sciences.

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Gilead Sciences and Merck announced a partnership to jointly develop lenacapavir (Gilead) and islatravir (Merck) as a long-acting two-drug regimen for HIV patients.

The collaboration will focus on developing long-acting oral and injectable formulations of the two investigational drugs. Clinical trials are slated to begin in the second half of 2021, the companies said.

HIV under the microscope

Gilead Sciences and Merck will jointly develop a long-acting two-drug regimen of lenacapavir (Gilead) and islatravir (Merck) for HIV patients.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Islatravir and lenacapavir are among several long-acting drugs that have shown encouraging results in clinical trials, such as HIV-PrEP, treatment, or both.

Lenacapavir, a novel capsid inhibitor, was effective in a small phase 2/3 study when given as a subcutaneous injection treatment every 6 months.

“Our work on HIV over the past few decades has been about listening to people living with HIV and the doctors who treat them,” said Gilead, CEO Daniel Here said in a press release. “Now we are taking the same approach with long-acting therapies, combining the most advanced science from both companies to accelerate progress.”

Once a month, oral islatravir as PrEP showed promising results in a phase 2a study and is expected to enter phase 3 development itself. It is a novel inhibitor of reverse transcriptase translocation of nucleosides.

“This collaboration with Gilead brings together two companies dedicated to the fight against HIV to develop potential new long-term treatment options. This is an important step in our strategy to realize islatravir’s full potential for the treatment of HIV, ”said Merck, CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, said in the publication.

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