Partnering to Accelerate a Cure for HIV

Carolina’s world-renowned HIV research had its beginnings back in 1947, when Dr. Kenneth Brinkhous came to Chapel Hill to chair the pathology department. His work with hemophiliac canines resulted in the partial thromboplastin time (PTT) test — today’s standard tool for diagnosing bleeding disorders in humans.

Brinkhous put Carolina on the map for hemophilia research, so when 50 percent of the hemophilia population in the U.S. contracted HIV between 1981 and 1984, they looked to Carolina for help. The first HIV/AIDS patient was admitted into UNC Hospitals in 1981; UNC remains at the forefront of research working to eradicate the condition and prevent its transmission around the globe.

In a first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership begun in 2015, Carolina and GlaxoSmithKline launched the HIV Cure Center on the UNC campus and Qura Therapeutics, a company dedicated to finding a cure for HIV. The partnership aims to allow the world’s best scientists to make faster progress than they would alone. Their work focuses on using a novel scientific approach, called “shock and kill,” to make the hidden HIV virus visible to the immune system so the patient’s immune system can clear the virus.

“This partnership marries the absolute best of what we do at America’s leading public universities — world-class research and a deep, deep commitment to serving the public — with the best of the private sector,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said.

This is story number 108 in the Carolina Stories 225th Anniversary Edition magazine.

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