GSK, UNC-Chapel Hill join forces in HIV partnership

The organizations will establish a dedicated HIV Cure center and Qura Therapeutics, a jointly owned company focused on an HIV/AIDS cure

Kelsey Kaustinen
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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) have established a dedicated HIV Cure center and a jointly owned new company that will focus on the discovery of a cure for HIV/AIDS. The new center will be located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and focus solely on a cure for HIV/AIDS while the new company, Qura Therapeutics, will handle the business aspects of the partnership, including commercialization, intellectual property, manufacturing and governance.
“Like UNC, GSK has a long legacy of HIV research success. From the development of the world’s first breakthrough medicine for HIV patients in the 1980s, to our leadership in the market today through ViiV Healthcare, we’re continuously challenging ourselves to meet the needs of patients,” Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, commented in a statement. “This partnership is a testament to our past and present leadership, innovation and commitment to this field. We are inspired by the confidence that with the right resources and research teams, we will be able to make a meaningful impact towards a cure for HIV.”
GSK will invest $4 million per year for five years through Qura Therapeutics to fund the initial HIV Cure center research plan, and a small GSK research team will relocate to Chapel Hill to be on site with UNC researchers. UNC will provide laboratory space on its medical campus for the HIV Cure center and Qura Therapeutics.
“The excitement of this public-private partnership lies in its vast potential,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Carolina has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research for the last 30 years. This first of its kind, joint-ownership model is a novel approach toward finding a cure, and we hope it serves as an invitation to the world’s best researchers and scientists. Today, Carolina’s best are taking another major step in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.”
The partners will focus on the latest scientific tactics against HIV, including one of the leading approaches known as “shock and kill,” which aims to reveal the hidden virus that remains in HIV-infected individuals despite successful therapy and augment the immune system to clear the lingering traces of the virus and infected cells. An aspect of this approach was first tested at UNC-Chapel Hill, and three years ago, a UNC-Chapel Hill team showed that new therapies could unmask latent HIV. University researchers recently secured U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to launch a study in HIV-positive volunteers to test this technique in combination with an immune-boosting strategy.
“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, senior vice president and head of the Infectious Diseases Therapy Area Unit at GSK. “This is why we must dedicate the next 30 years to finding a cure and scaling it up, so that one day we will end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
SOURCE: GSK press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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