Southern Research Continues 24 Years of HIV Work with New NIH Contract

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – December 1, 2014 – Southern Research has been awarded a $24 million, seven-year contract with the Division of AIDS, part of the National Institutes of Health, to provide drug discovery and development services to develop products that have the potential to become drugs for the treatment and prevention of HIV. The contract supports high throughput screening and preclinical studies to discover and develop novel antiretrovirals, with a focus on topical microbicides and unique or unexploited viral targets.

24 Years of HIV Research

For 24 years, Southern Research has been meeting the HIV drug discovery and development needs of the government and pharmaceutical industries, with more than 30 HIV assays and over 200 strains of HIV and SIV in production. This contract renews two previous contracts into one award.

“We received word on the award earlier this year, but we chose to make the announcement December 1 – World AIDS Day – to recognize this special day of awareness and to emphasize the work we have been doing, and continue to do, in the fight against this devastating disease,” said Art Tipton, Ph.D., Southern Research president and CEO.

The Facts on HIV

Currently, there is no cure for AIDS caused by HIV, and the virus continues to spread despite the increased global commitment to controlling the pandemic.

  • According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, globally, there were more than 35 million people living with HIV: 2.1 million people became newly infected and 1.5 million died.
  • In the U.S., there are more than 30 FDA approved HIV medicines.
  • A variety of interventional agents are used in combination to control virus replication and successfully manage the disease, resulting in a functional cure for millions and showing promise in prevention of new infections.
  • Millions are relying on antiretroviral therapy (ART) until a sterilizing cure can be identified, but according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Signs report, only 3 in 10 people living with HIV have achieved viral suppression.
  • Oral administration of ART, including Option B and Option B+, was approved worldwide to inhibit transmission in high risk populations and mother-to-child transmissions.
  • In 2013, approximately 12 million people received ART, but drug resistance is an ongoing issue.

“Southern Research has a well-equipped, integrated team of biologists and medicinal, combinatorial and bioanalytical chemists whose experience in drug discovery and development provide significant technical support for products being developed to treat HIV patients,” said Marintha Heil, contract PI and project leader in Southern Research’s drug development division.

About Southern Research

Founded in 1941 in Birmingham, Alabama, Southern Research is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) scientific and engineering research organization that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development, advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, and environment and energy research. Approximately 500 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental, and energy industries in laboratories and facilities in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas.