Nov 27, 2014

TOP 10: Research Companies on the Forefront of HIV/AIDS Eradication

5 min
Approximately 7.6 million AIDS deaths have been averted since 1995 thanks to antiretroviral treatment.
HIV/AIDS continues to be a major global public health issue. The disease has claimed more than 39 million lives so far, with 1.5 million having died...

HIV/AIDS continues to be a major global public health issue. The disease has claimed more than 39 million lives so far, with 1.5 million having died in 2013 alone, according to the World Health Organization. While there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS infection, effective treatment with antiretroviral drugs can control the virus so that individuals with HIV/AIDS can enjoy healthy and productive lives.

New momentum in the fight against HIV/AIDS has helped millions of people get access to prevention and treatment services. Life-saving antiretroviral treatment has meant that an AIDS diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.

In 2013, 12.9 million people around the world were receiving antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS, up from 300,000 in 2002, according to ONE, the international campaigning and advocacy organization taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. Global deaths due to AIDS have also consistently dropped over time.

While an effective method to control HIV/AIDS has been discovered and implemented, it does not mean that the search for a cure has ended. In fact, it is stronger than ever before.

While there are numerous companies, universities and hospitals working to better understand HIV/AIDS, these are the top 10 research companies on the cusp of developing new and more effective treatments for HIV/AIDS and leading the path to finding a cure.

10. The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute undertakes basic biomedical research to learn how the human body operates on all levels. With more than 270 independent investigators, 700 postdoctoral fellows and 225 Ph.D. students, The Scripps Research Institute is well positioned to discover a new drug for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

9. UC San Diego AIDS Research Institute

The AIDS Research Institute was established in 1996 by the Regents of the University of California to coordinate the diverse AIDS research and clinical activities on the UCSD campus. The mission of the institute is to become  a regional resource for HIV/AIDS research by coordinating and stimulating collaborative scientific research and exchange while serving as the nexus for AIDS researchers to devise new approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV/AIDS.

8. Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research

CFAR is a joint research effort between Tufts and Brown Universities and their affiliated hospitals and centers. The group has brought together all senior AIDS investigators and has been successful in supporting on-going research for HIV/AIDS. Besides the extensive efforts in Southeastern New England, the leadership has expanded the scope of international studies through the training of international collaborators and collaborative research at international sites.

7. Bristol-Myers Squibb

Focused on addressing the significant unmet needs of patients with chronic viral disease, Bristol-Myers Squibb allocates substantial resources to developing new medicines and treatments in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

6. AIDS Research Alliance

The AIDS Research Alliance exists to develop a cure for HIV/AIDS, medical strategies to prevent new infections and better treatments for people living with HIV. The group is working to prevent HIV infection as an investigational site for the NIH-sponsored HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). AIDS Research Alliance is dedicated to realizing an AIDS-free generation via a vaccine to prevent the spread of HIV and a cure.

5. Delaney AIDS Research Enterprise (DARE)

An international group of more than 30 researchers and doctors, DARE is committed to finding a cure for HIV. Scientists at DARE are working to characterize reservoir sites where the HIV virus can persist beyond the reach of antiretroviral therapy amd investigating the circumstances under which these reservoirs are established. DARE researchers believe that understanding the mechanisms for the persistence of viral reservoirs will be key to finding a cure.

4. GeoVax Labs, Inc.

As a clinical-stage biotechnology company, GeoVax develops innovative human vaccines, focusing on those that prevent and fight HIV infections. The company’s most advanced vaccines under development are designed to function against the clade B subtype of the HIV virus that is prevalent in the United States and much of the developed world. GeoVax has also licensed from the U.S. National Institutes of Health the modified vaccine Ankara (MVA) construct for the clade C subtype of HIV prevalent in South Africa and India, and have begun early development work on a vaccine for this subtype.

3. ViiV Healthcare

Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline launched Viiv Healthcare in 2009 to address international HIV/AIDS needs. The company has five investigational medicines and prioritizes research into HIV in children. Twenty-four of the 36 collaborative research trials in place are investigating the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and paediatric treatment strategies.

2. amfAR

Since 1985, amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) has invested in more than $338 million in its programs and has awarded more than 3,300 grants to research teams worldwide. Among its accomplishments, the company has pioneered research that ultimately led to the use of antiretroviral drugs to block mother-to-infant HIV transmission. amfAR also established Asia’s first HIV/AIDS observational database to monitor disease course and treatment outcomes, generating information that will help improve treatment standards for patients across the continent.

1. Calimmune

Founded in 2007, Calimmune has been at the forefront of developing innovative cell-based therapies for HIV/AIDS. The company formed around stem cell technology discovered in the labs of Nobel Laureate, Dr. David Baltimore (Caltech) and Dr. Irvin Chen (UCLA AIDS Institute) in early 2000.

Calimmune announced groundbreaking news earlier this year when they reported that encouraging results from the first group of participants in an HIV stem cell gene modification study were leading to a second cohort in a clinical trial involving the use of Cal-1, an innovative gene-based stem cell therapy to help protect individuals infected with HIV from progressing to AIDS.

In the first phase of this study, four HIV-positive participants were infused with their own blood stem cells as well as mature T cells that had been modified to carry a gene that blocks production of CCR5. The hope is that those stem cells will then create a new blood system that is resistant to HIV. To guard against the virus forming resistance, the team has used a second mechanism to prevent the virus from fusing with the patient’s cells.

The second group of 3-4 participants will not only get Cal-1 but will also get a preconditioning regimen with the aim of making the therapy more effective.

“With more than one million Americans living with HIV, there is clearly an urgent need for a therapy that does more than just hold the virus at bay,” says Jonathan Thomas, Ph.D., J.D., Chair of the stem cell agency’s governing Board. “Current medications are effective, but come with a big cost both in terms of dollars and side effects. Our goal is to find an approach that effectively cures people with HIV/AIDS.”

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Dec 10, 2018

Top 10 healthcare innovations for 2019

medical devices
Top 10
Catherine Sturman
6 min
healthcare innovations
We take a look at some of the top 10 healthcare innovations which are transforming the sector

We take a look at some of the top 10 healthcare innovations which are transforming the sector

10. Telehealth

The telehealth market is booming. Consumers are leading increasingly busy lifestyles, with up to 60% favouring digitally-led services. Providing clinical care at a distance, increasing accessibility and eradicating potential delays has given patients greater control, boosting patient satisfaction and overall engagement. Such is its exponential growth, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the US has recently released its proposed Physician Fee Schedule and Qualified Payment Programme updates for 2019, where telehealth services has been heavily featured, in order to deliver ‘different access points’ for patients.  

9. Mobile technology

Consumers have become accustomed to accessing their data through the use of various digital tools, where the use of mobile and tablet health apps has tripled from 13% in 2014 to 48% today. Catering to this growing market, British based start-up Babylon Health is making waves on a global scale. Partnering with the National Health Service (NHS) and private health provider, Bupa, it has also cemented its presence across the flourishing Chinese market, with a membership base exceeding 1.4mn citizens across Europe, Asia and Africa. By partnering with global juggernaut Tencent, Babylon’s artificial intelligence system has enabled both parties to interact directly with users, identify specific illnesses, deliver health status assessments, and triage necessary actions. The mobile app is available to over a billion users and linked to more than 38,000 medical facilities in China alone.

8. Artificial intelligence 

Artificial intelligence (AI) applications, such as predictive analytics for patient monitoring has provided significant financial savings. Applications that target hospitals and medical institutions include patient monitoring and transcribing notes for electronic health records (EHRs). The European Union is set to invest $24bn into artificial intelligence (AI) by 2020 in a bid to catch up with Asia and the US, who have invested heavily in AI and cloud services. This year, Google revealed its plans to harness AI and machine learning across a multitude of consumer technologies, particularly in healthcare. “If AI can shape healthcare, it has to work through the regulations of healthcare. In fact, I see that as one of the biggest areas where the benefits will play out for the next 10-20 years,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai has previously stated.

7. Blockchain

Blockchain is estimated to reach over $5.61bn by the end of 2025, even though it remains dependent on the ability to record and store information conveniently, economically and securely amongst different applications and systems. Providing transparency and eliminating third-party intermediaries, processes are streamlined, reducing healthcare costs exponentially. Unlocking the ability for providers to deliver a value-based healthcare system and enhance patient engagement, blockchain could save the industry up to $100-$150bn per year by 2025 in data breach-related costs, IT costs, operations costs, support function costs and personnel costs, according to BIS Research. Partnering with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Ethereum blockchain-based supply chain platform, Viant sought to accelerate the pace of blockchain-based supply chain systems. Accenture and supply chain giant DHL have also developed a blockchain-based serialisation prototype which tracks pharmaceuticals from the point of origin to the consumer.

6. Health wearables

With the rise of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, more consumers are turning to health wearables that monitor glucose, heart rate, physical activity and sleep to gain a greater understanding of their health conditions. Following on from the release of the first Bluetooth headset back in 2000, the growing interest in wearables has seen monitoring our health and data become standardised. This data can be analysed by sophisticated algorithms to drive long-term diagnosis and support. Partnering with Google, health wearables company Fitbit is exploring the development of consumer and enterprise health solutions. Its acquisition of HIPAA-compliant health platform, Twine Health has seen the business enhance its clinical services by bringing on board a coaching platform, empowering people to seek better health outcomes.

See also

5. Electronic health records tools

From 2018-2022, the electronic health records (EHR) market is expected to grow at a compound average rate of 6% per year Providers and organisations continue to house fragmented technologies which create barriers towards collaboration and data sharing opportunities. This is further exacerbated if a patient straddles both public and private healthcare. Technology giant Apple has integrated patients’ medical records into its Health App as part of its iOS 11.3 beta. The data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode. Partnering with hospital providers and clinics, patients are now able to view their medical records from multiple providers within one platform. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine, UC San Diego Health and even the Cleveland Clinic have implemented this technology.

4. Healthcare transportation 

Non-emergency health transportation remains a key issue worldwide, preventing patients from getting to or from a doctor’s appointment. 25% of lower-income patients have missed or rescheduled appointments due to lack of transportation, costing US health systems up to $150bn each year. Transportation companies such as Lyft and Uber have therefore entered the market by partnering with state governments to reduce these costs and deliver personalised patient care.

3. 3D Printing 

Healthcare providers are set to represent the second largest industry sector in 3D manufacturing. The Food & Drug Administration’s decision to release its first comprehensive framework advising manufacturers of 3D medical products highlights its growing impact where more than 100,000 knee replacement surgeries are completed each year using 3D-printed, patient-matched surgical guides, for example. Through this process, surfaces and structures can be optimised for strength, weight and material use. Consultation between surgeons and patients has also been bolstered, where patients can better understand the complexity of his or her specific needs.

2. Genomics

As consumers get more involved in the management of their health, consumer genetics and research companies have grown in popularity and scale. People want to further understand their genetic makeup, leading personal genomics and biotech company 23andMe to become one of the largest consumer-based organisations worldwide. Interestingly, this year, the company has entered a four-year collaboration with GSK to develop new treatments, but using human genetics as the basis for discovery.

Not only looking to develop treatments by analysing human genetics, pharmaceutical companies are looking to even remove hereditary genes which pass diseases down generations. In 2017, human embryos were successfully ‘edited’ through gene editing tool, CRISPR (Clustered, Regularly Interspaced, Short Palindromic Repeats), eradicating hypertrophic cardiomyopathy within 42 embryos.

1. Vertical integrations

As healthcare providers aim to provide greater transparency, promote collaboration and lower escalating patient costs, 2018 has been the year for a significant number of vertical integrations. CVS Health’s $68mn takeover of health insurer Aetna is a case in point. By influencing more of the supply chain, it will gain significant negotiating power to reduce costs for payers and patients, develop personalised solutions and improve overall outcomes. It will also promote the eradication of delays in process by removing any third parties within traditional business models. Other notable integrations are Optum’s acquisition of the DaVita Medical GroupHumana and Kindred Healthcare and Cigna and Express Scripts.

Reports have indicated that not only has the number of healthcare deals more than doubled in the last five years, the size of deals has also grown as a result of repeat investor interest, highlighting that this trend is here to stay.

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