The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), a global research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company, have joined forces to create an HIV Cure center and a jointly owned company that will focus on discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS. This partnership between the public and private sector is part of a newly developing research model that has great potential to advance the field of HIV cure research.
The HIV Cure center will be located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Qura Therapeutics, the newly formed company, will provide support for the business aspects of the partnership.
“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 cure center will dedicate efforts to investigating many research approaches to HIV cure. One of the greatest challenges in HIV cure research is the tendency of the virus to hide in a dormant state in certain cells of the body. If a patient stops taking anti-retroviral drugs, these cells can “reawaken”. Dr. David Margolis, UNC professor of medicine and leader of the Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE), will focus on the “shock and kill” method, in which drugs are taken to wake up the virus so the infected cells can be clearly identified by the immune system.
“After 30 years of developing treatments that successfully manage HIV/AIDS without finding a cure, we need both new research approaches to this difficult medical problem and durable alliances of many partners to sustain the effort that will be needed to reach this goal,” said Dr. Margolis. “The ‘shock and kill’ approach has shown significant promise in early translational research on humans and has been the focus of research for the last several years.” Building upon the research network started by the UNC Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), this emerging partnership will engage scientists from UNC, GSK, RTP and related communities who are deeply dedicated to solving one of the world’s toughest problems – the eradication of HIV/AIDS.
This news was also featured in the New York Times; read the article here.