IPM takes over Microbicide development to protect against sexual transmission of HIV

International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) today announced that it has reached a farsighted agreement with Tibotec Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The aim is to develop the promising compound TMC120 as a safe and effective microbicide to help protect women from infection with HIV.  This agreement marks the first collaboration in the microbicide field between a major healthcare company and a public-private partnership such as IPM.

Microbicides in the form of gels, films, sponges and other products, would be applied topically (such as intravaginally) to help prevent sexual transmission of HIV. TMC120 belongs to the class of drugs known as NNRTIs (non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors).  NNRTIs are already widely used therapeutically to treat people living with HIV/AIDS; their promise as topical microbicides to prevent the transmission of HIV has been recognized for some time.

About half of all HIV infections globally occur among women.  They are biologically more vulnerable to infections and are often powerless to abstain from sex or to insist on condom use.  According to a recent Rockefeller Foundation Report (see note 1), a microbicide that is even partially effective against HIV could avert 2.5 million HIV infections over three years.  Experts believe it will take 5-10 years to develop such a microbicide.

Under the arrangement, Tibotec provides a royalty-free license to IPM to develop, manufacture and distribute TMC120 as a microbicide in resource poor countries.  Tibotec has already developed a TMC120-containing gel which is currently in Phase I clinical testing. IPM will assume responsibility for development of this compound. Additionally, IPM will look to develop other formulations with TMC120, both alone and in combination with other active ingredients. Under the agreement, Tibotec will bear the cost of  the compound through Phase II testing and will remain active as a scientific advisor.

“We applaud Tibotec and Johnson & Johnson for this act of corporate citizenship,” said Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of IPM. “This agreement demonstrates that the public and private sectors can come together to confront the global AIDS pandemic and work to save women’s lives.”

“IPM is uniquely positioned to undertake the development of TMC120,“ said Paul Stoffels, M.D., President of Tibotec.  “With their commitment to accelerate the discovery, development and accessibility of safe and effective microbicides for HIV and their breadth of expertise, we are confident that IPM will maximize the potential benefit of this compound for women in resource-poor countries.”

"This agreement is a major milestone in global efforts to develop a microbicide for all women around the world, and is a model of the innovative collaboration that is crucial to reversing the AIDS epidemic," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS in Geneva. "Microbicides must be at the centre of a comprehensive prevention agenda for women and girls, who account for about half of all HIV infections worldwide."

"Microbicides are one of the most exciting scientific prospects we have in the fight against HIV/AIDS. An accelerated research breakthrough could give the women of Africaa significant measure of sexual autonomy, without which the pandemic cannot be defeated," said Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Public-private partnerships such as IPM are not-for-profit organizations that work with the public and private sectors to accelerate the development of international public goods.

IPM’s major financial supporters include five European countries – Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom – as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, UNFPA and the World Bank.

About the International Partnership for Microbicides

The International Partnership for Microbicides was established in 2002 to accelerate the discovery, development and accessibility of microbicides to prevent transmission of HIV. The organization's goal is to improve the efficiency of all efforts to deliver a safe and effective microbicide as soon as possible.

For further information, please visit IPM’s website:  http://www.ipm-microbicides.org

About Tibotec

Tibotec is a pharmaceutical research and development company with headquarters in Belgium and operating subsidiaries in the United States and Ireland. The company is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.  Tibotec is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel, new drugs for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases with the ultimate aim of enhancing and extending peoples’ lives.

For further information, please visit the website of Tibotec at: http://www.tibotec.com


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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