Citing what it calls strategic reasons, Gilead Sciences says it is ending a licensing agreement with Emory University and the University of Georgia Research Foundation that Triangle Pharmaceuticals had entered before being acquired.

The agreement, struck by Triangle with the universities in 1996, called for the development and commercialization of amdoxovir for the treatment of HIV. Gilead of Foster City, CA, acquired Triangle in January 2003 for $464 million in cash. Triangle had develped another HIV drug, Coviracil.

In accordance with the licensing agreement made with Triangle, Gilead will transfer toxicity, efficacy and other data including the IND to Emory in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens.

Also known as DAPD, amdoxovir is an investigational guanosine nucleoside analogue currently in Phase II development for the treatment of HIV. Amdoxovir has also been tested in humans for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection and is currently in Phase II clinical trials under a U.S. IND.

“Amdoxovir has great potential for salvage therapy in HIV infected individuals,” said Mary Severson, Emory’s chief technology officer. “Emory and the University of Georgia Research Foundation are committed to the continued development of this drug and the ongoing NIH-sponsored clinical trials–.”

Gilead says it will meet ongoing obligations with respect to existing clinical trials and is committed to cooperating with the universities during the transition of this technology to a new licensee.

“Gilead remains committed to developing novel compounds to fight HIV,” said John Martin, president and chief executive officer of the company. “We continue to focus resources on the development of other promising candidates in our pipeline, including the co-formulation of Viread and Emtriva into a single fixed-dose combination tablet, and two investigational agents–.”

Gilead Sciences: www.gilead.com

Emory University: www.emory.edu

University of Georgia: www.uga.edu