GSK Forms New HIV Company with UNC
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have announced the creation of a dedicated HIV Cure center and a jointly owned new company that will focus on discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS. The public-private partnership seeks to redefine the traditional way of conducting research and create a new model for drug development.
The HIV Cure center will be located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and will focus exclusively on finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. The new company, Qura Therapeutics, will handle the business side of the partnership, including intellectual property, commercialization, manufacturing, and governance. Together, the HIV Cure center and Qura Therapeutics will serve as a catalyst for additional partners and public funding that will likely be needed to eradicate HIV worldwide.
UNC-Chapel Hill and GSK will focus on the latest scientific approaches to curing HIV, including a research approach toward an HIV cure, sometimes called “shock and kill.” This approach seeks to reveal the hidden virus that persists in people with HIV infection despite successful drug therapy, and augment the patient's immune system to clear these last traces of the virus and infected cells. Part of this new paradigm was first tested at UNC-Chapel Hill, and in 2012 a team led by UNC-Chapel Hill researchers demonstrated that latent HIV might be unmasked by new therapies. Recently, researchers at the university received US Food and Drug Administration approval for a study in HIV-positive volunteers to combine this technique and an immune-boosting strategy.
Through the new company, GSK will invest $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 the new company. GSK will be contributing its expertise and know-how in medicines discovery, development and manufacturing, and UNC-Chapel Hill will bring to the table its research and translational medicine capabilities, talent, as well as access to patients and funding.
GSK's investment in the HIV Cure center is separate from its investment in the discovery of novel antiretroviral (ARV) therapies in support of ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company owned by GSK, Pfizer and Shionogi. GSK's HIV Discovery Performance Unit will continue its work on new ARVs in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. ViiV has significant clinical expertise and will play an advisory role to the HIV Cure center and Qura Therapeutics.
In its first-quarter earnings results, GSK announced that it would not seek an initial public offering of its minority stake in ViiV Healthcare based on positive first quarter performance and outlook. GSK had announced it 2014 that it was considering an IPO of its minority stake in Viiv Healthcare.