RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – GSK will pay some $1 billion to acquire rights to and commercialize an hepatitis B therapy from Johnson & Johnson in a deal announced Tuesday.

“GSK  and Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals today announced that they have reached an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Janssen), a Johnson & Johnson company, to transfer exclusive worldwide rights to further develop and commercialize JNJ-3989 to GSK. JNJ-3989 (formerly ARO-HBV) was initially in-licensed by Janssen from Arrowhead in 2018,” GSK said.

“JNJ-3989 is an investigational hepatitis B virus-targeted small interfering ribonucleic acid (siRNA) therapeutic that GSK intends to evaluate in a sequential regimen with bepirovirsen, GSK’s investigational antisense oligonucleotide, for the treatment of adult non-cirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) on nucleos(t)ide analogue (NA) therapy.”

Tony Wood, Chief Scientific Officer, GSK, said in the announcement: “We are excited to build on promising results already demonstrated with bepirovirsen to investigate a novel sequential regimen with JNJ-3989. We believe this approach could redefine the treatment paradigm for chronic hepatitis B by helping even more patients achieve functional cure.”

GSK notes that there is a “high unmet need in CHB with an estimated 300 million people living with the disease and a less than 3-7% functional cure rate with current treatment options.”

Reuters has more on the story.