HIV: Why Combating the Virus Comes Down to Smart Collaborations
The HIV virus continues to be one of the most complex global health challenges we face today—and one for which there is no single answer.
If we are to overcome HIV once and for all, we must develop, review and then adopt a variety of strategies and approaches to help ensure that the tremendous innovation efforts happening around the globe reach those in the greatest need.
As the head of the research and development team for the Global Public Health Group at Janssen, I feel compelled to not only continue to search for innovative and effective solutions—but to also seek strategic partnerships, whether it’s through collaborations between industry and non-profit organizations, public-private partnerships, or some combination of both.
We need to be as open-minded about how we work together as we have been about sourcing novel interventions.
One such partnership is a collaboration in place between Janssen Sciences Ireland UC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), to help develop ways to deliver our highly potent antiretroviral (ARV) to populations in need.
A key focus for us over the last couple of years has been to help protect women in sub-Saharan Africa from contracting HIV. At present, nearly 59% of those living with HIV are women—and 1,000 young women continue to be infected each day.
Over ten years ago, we granted a royalty-free license for our ARV to help enable the development of a microbicide that could kill or neutralize the HIV virus. Today, the microbicide is being delivered through a vaginal ring that has been cited as one of the most anticipated advances in the prevention of HIV in women.
At a recent annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, results were presented that showed it was the first time the device had been successfully used to deliver an ARV in women older than 21.
Last year, we expanded our partnership with IPM, granting exclusive rights for the development of further microbicide options, which includes investigating ways to deliver our HIV protease inhibitor through such mechanisms as a vaginal ring and a rectal topical gel.
I firmly believe that it is only through such collaborations that we will be able to deliver genuinely life-changing and long-lasting differences to human health, particularly in the world’s most vulnerable and underserved communities.
From a personal point of view, I am honored and proud to be part of a company dedicated to improving global public heath for all—be it through education, prevention, detection or treatment.
The only way we really can make HIV history is if we work together.
Wim Parys, MD, is Head of R&D Global Public Health, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. He obtained a MD degree from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium and was in private practice for 9 years before joining the Janssen Research Foundation in Beerse, Belgium where he held several R&D positions and developed a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. In 2000 he became the Head of Development at the biotech company Tibotec , which was later acquired by J&J. During his tenure, Tibotec developed and launched three innovative HIV drugs. During his time as Development Head of Janssen’s Infectious Diseases and Vaccines therapeutic area, he lead the discovery and development of other medicines for HIV, Hepatitis C, MDR-TB and respiratory viral diseases.