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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 15, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 20
New HIV research partnership announced: UNC Chapel Hill and GlaxoSmithKline
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New HIV research partnership announced: UNC Chapel Hill and GlaxoSmithKline

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer A new HIV research project combining the efforts of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline was announced May 11.

UNC Chapel Hill will put up a team of 40 researchers. GSK will provide its own research team and $20 million to fund the project for five years.

The joint research project is described as 'open ended' and will focus on several already identified approaches to curing HIV/AIDS.

The project is reportedly the first public-private research partnership of its kind, and will be called Qura Therapeutics. It will be based at the UNC Chapel Hill campus.

The effort will be separate from ViiV Healthcare, the company owned by GSK, Pfizer, and Shionogi that develops and sells drugs that control HIV. Qura, as the name suggests, will try to develop a cure for HIV/AIDS.

'The excitement of this public-private partnership lies in its vast potential,' UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L Folt said.

'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.'

She added that the new partnership hoped to attract other collaborators in the future.

'This partnership is a testament to our past and present leadership, innovation and commitment to this field,' GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty said.

'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.'

The two partners have a history of HIV research that goes back to the earliest days of the epidemic.

AZT, the first approved HIV drug, was patented in 1985 by Burroughs Wellcome, which was subsequently bought by GSK.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, molecular biologist David Margolis and his colleagues are noted for their so-called 'kick and kill' strategy to root out HIV from its many latent reservoirs in the body, even in patients already treated with antiretroviral therapy. That avenue will be one of the methods slated for further research.

With that approach, 'what was once provocative and unthinkable became mainstream: let's try and cure AIDS,' Myron Cohen, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill, told BuzzFeed News.

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