The next viruses in Gilead's crosshairs: HIV and hep B
- Now that Gilead has introduced a "cure" for hepatitis C, researchers at the company are working on developing cures for HIV and hepatitis B, according to Bloomberg. Gilead's hep C drugs, Sovaldia and Harvoni, cure 90% of cases of hep C when used properly.
- Gilead is also the market leader in HIV therapeutics, and the company says that 80% of new patients who have been diagnosed with HIV start treatment with a Gilead therapy.
- The lead candidate for an HIV cure from Gilead is GS-9620, which is currently in early-stage clinical trials after successful completion of a proof-of-concept study with monkeys.
Gilead's prowess in the area of viral therapeutics is unassailable. Nowhere is this as true as in hepatitis C—a therapeutic category that's given Gilead an adrenaline shot of revenues straight to the jugular.
Never a company to rest on its laurels, Gilead's science-focused machine is hard at work developing additional therapies for HIV and hepatitis B.
The leading HIV candiate, GS-9620, uses a 'kick and kill' strategy, which involves latent cells being stimulated into an active mode so that immune system can kill them. A clinical study of GS-9620 for hepatitis B is also underway.
While the market for hepatitis C is larger than the hep B market (350 million versus 150 million patients worldwide), the treatment course for hep B is longer. And there's a good chance that Gilead won't see the type of returns from hep B and HIV that it has from hep C. At this point, there are many variables in play, and the standard uncertainty that accompanies any ambitious R&D effort. But Gilead's track record in virology bodes well for another potential breakthrough.