Burnet teams up with Monash and BioCurate to develop novel HIV antivirals

Burnet Institute, in collaboration with Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) has received Proof of Concept funding from BioCurate to develop next-generation human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antivirals.

The multi-disciplinary research team, led jointly by Burnet’s Head of Life Sciences, Professor Gilda Tachedjian, and leading medicinal chemist Dr David Chalmers (MIPS), has identified a novel HIV target, or new way to attack HIV. With the financial support and therapeutic development expertise of BioCurate, the team will validate the target and further progress the development of drug candidates.

HIV remains a global public health threat. In 2020 there were an estimated 37.7 million people living with HIV, 1.5 million new HIV infections, and 680,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses1. As there is no cure, HIV therapy is lifelong. There is a need to continually innovate and develop new drugs that block the drug-resistant virus and provide new options for individuals who are running out of treatment options. By targeting HIV resistance to existing drugs, these new therapeutics may provide a life-saving option and reduce human suffering worldwide.

The Tachedjian Laboratory combines 25 years of HIV virology and antivirals experience with an emphasis on translational science, synergising with Monash’s unique fragment-based drug design methodology. Combined with BioCurate’s industry experience, the team will work towards novel HIV therapeutics with the potential to safeguard HIV therapy for the next generation.

Professor Tachedjian said: “I am thrilled that with BioCurate’s support we have the opportunity to validate our promising early-stage compounds to advance the development of a new HIV drug class that addresses the unmet need of heavily treatment experienced individuals who are unable to tolerate and/or respond to current antiretroviral regimens.”

Dr Chalmers said that the collaboration combines MIPS’ expertise in chemistry and drug development with the Burnet’s expertise in HIV virology. “This PoC award is the result of a long-standing collaboration between MIPS and the Burnet. Together the team will target a protein in the HIV replication cycle that will stop the virus from reproducing. We are grateful to BioCurate for their support for this promising project which we hope can improve the lives of people living with HIV,” said Dr Chalmers.

BioCurate CEO, Dr Damien Bates said “Following a rigorous selection process we are excited to partner with Drs Tachedjian and Chalmers to advance this important research further along the translational pipeline. It has significant clinical potential and aligns perfectly with our mission to translate medical research into high quality pre-clinical candidates.”