GlaxoSmithKline and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have formed a multi-faceted HIV partnership that sees the creation of a new company and an HIV Cure centre.
Under the collaboration, scientists from each partner will work together at the newly established HIV Cure centre to find a cure for the disease, focusing on the latest approaches, including a “shock and kill” tactic, which aims to unveil hidden virus that persists despite successful drug therapy and boost the immune system to clear any leftover infected cells.
“Although today’s treatments for HIV mean that millions of lives have been saved, people still have to take a lifetime of treatments, which takes an emotional toll and places an economic burden on society that is particularly challenging in countries with limited resources,” said Zhi Hong, head of the Infectious Diseases Therapy Area Unit at GSK, explaining the need for a cure.
The new, jointly-owned company - Qura Therapeutics - will take care of the business side of the partnership, handling aspects such as intellectual property, commercialisation, manufacturing and governance.
“This unique public-private partnership will redefine the traditional way of conducting research and create a new model to seek the breakthroughs needed to tackle an extraordinarily challenging global health issue,” said GSK, also noting that it should “serve as a catalyst for additional partners and public funding that will likely be needed to eradicate HIV worldwide”.
Taking GSK deeper into the HIV field, the firm will channel, through Qura, $4 million per year for five years to fund the initial HIV Cure center research plan, and a small research team from GSK will move to Chapel Hill to be co-located with UNC researchers. The University will provide laboratory space on its medical campus for the HIV Cure center and Qura, as well as access to patients and funding.