Boehringer Ingelheim has granted Gilead Sciences exclusive worldwide rights to novel HIV compounds it was developing.

The drugs are non-catalytic site integrase inhibitors (NCINIs), which include the lead compound BI 224436; the latter has been evaluated in a Phase Ia dose-escalation study. Under the terms of the agreement, Gilead will pay Boehringer an undisclosed upfront fee and the German firm  could receive additional payments based upon the achievement of certain milestones, as well as royalties.

Boehringer to focus on hep C

Klaus Dugi, head of medicine at Boehringer, noted that "both companies’ genuine interest in advancing R&D in virology is reflected by this collaboration". However, he added that “while Gilead will drive the integrase inhibitors in HIV into clinical development, we will focus our development efforts on further compounds of our virology pipeline, particularly our portfolio in hepatitis C". In terms of the latter area, Boehringer recently moved its lead compound - a second-generation once-daily protease inhibitor BI 201335 – into Phase III.

NCINIs inhibit HIV integrase by binding to a novel site, distinct from the catalytic site used by the current class of integrase inhibitors, the firms said. They therefore may possess a differentiated resistance profile from Merck & Co's Isentress (raltegravir) or Gilead's own investigational drug elvitegravir.