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GSK partners AIDS charity

GlaxoSmithKline has announced the first public-private partnership with a charity to help develop a vaccine to tackle AIDS

GlaxoSmithKline has announced the first public-private partnership with a charity to help develop a vaccine to tackle AIDS

A collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) that will facilitate research based on a chimpanzee virus has been hailed as one of the first overt alliances between big pharma and an AIDS charity.

Under the agreement, IAVI and GSK will form a joint development team for the project. IAVI will contribute technical expertise and funding, while GSK has pledged to make the vaccine available at affordable prices to developing countries if it is successful.

The technology for the non-human primate adenovirus vector was developed, and is owned, by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, which has licensed the platform exclusively to GSK.

The chimp virus has been engineered so that it doesnít affect humans, but could spark immune systems into responding against HIV. The research will focus initially on vaccines designed to elicit immune responses against variants of HIV that circulate predominantly in Africa. Thereafter, it is a goal to develop one that is effective worldwide. It will, however, be many years before the GSK/IAVI vaccine hits the market as the drug has yet to pass the first phase of human trials.

ìThis partnership is a model for how public and private sectors can work together,î said Jean StÈphenne, president of GSK Biologicals, the companyís specialist vaccine manufacturing unit. ìThe private sector has an immense amount of knowledge, resources and expertise, and innovative partnerships such as this are essential to tackle the biggest global health challenges.î

Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of IAVI, added: ìTogether GSK Biologicals and IAVI will work to develop an important approach to an effective AIDS vaccine. We hope this will be the beginning of a long-term partnership that brings together some of the most promising technologies in the field.î

World leaders at the forthcoming G8 summit are expected to extend support for vaccine research against AIDS.

GSK is a significant player in AIDS drugs sector, with products such as Combivir and Trizivir. The collaboration comes in the wake of criticism over its pricing and patent protection in third-world countries.

  • Separately, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has teamed up with the Baylor College of Medicine to establish a multi-part programme to provide medical care for African children with HIV/AIDS. A paediatric AIDS corps comprising 250 doctors will be sent to Africa to treat 80,000 children over the next five years and to train local healthcare professionals. Four new childrenís clinical centres of excellence will be also be built in a $40m programme. The company also announced that it is reducing its price of paediatric formulations of HIV medicines in developing countries.

2nd September 2008

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