Public-Private Partnership Sets Sights on HIV/AIDS Cure
British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline hopes to cure HIV/AIDS with a first-of-its-kind partnership with researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Under the arrangement, announced Sunday, GSK and UNC will work together in a jointly owned business with an equal share of value and responsibility. While there are many pharma-academic partnerships, most of them are focused on developing early stage tools and don’t extend all the way through discovery and development, as this one does, says GSK spokeswoman Melinda Stubbee.
The initiative will include a new HIV Cure Center on the university’s campus where the majority of the research will be conducted, as well as a joint business, Qura Therapeutics, which will handle the more commercial aspects of the partnership, such as marketing, manufacturing and intellectual property.
GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty discussed the need to make a cure for HIV/AIDS a research priority during a briefing Sunday at UNC. The drugmaker previously formed a collective with Pfizer and Shionogi called ViiV Healthcare, which is dedicated entirely to HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases.
Meanwhile, UNC researchers have developed a technique called “shock and kill,” which attempts to bring remaining HIV out of hiding so that the immune systems of patients on antiretroviral drugs who have undetectable viral loads can demolish them. The university recently received FDA permission to conduct a clinical trial of this technique, alongside an immune-boosting treatment. — Lena Freund