The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Institut Pasteur (IP), a private non-profit foundation, announced today an agreement to extend their long-standing collaboration in health research and the management of inventions arising from this research. These two institutions have been leaders and collaborators in the field of HIV/AIDS research for more than 20 years. The extended agreement will initially facilitate the patenting and licensing of a large portfolio of intellectual property held by NIH and IP in the field of HIV-1 diagnostics. Additional long term public health benefits are expected as the agreement provides a new framework for further support and encouragement of collaborative research in a variety of areas by leading scientists at both the NIH and IP.
HIV diagnostics are important to maintaining the safety of the blood supply through donor screening and by providing early diagnosis and monitoring of HIV infection so that patients may benefit from early treatment regimens. To date, effective HIV-1 diagnostic test kits based upon technology licensed from IP and NIH have been distributed worldwide by many companies, thus saving millions of lives. As the science of understanding the HIV-1 virus has progressed, new technologies arising from the laboratories of IP and NIH and subsequently developed by diagnostics companies now allow these tests to be provided with increased sensitivity and specificity but at a lower cost.
"This agreement, which ensures the continuation of the productive partnership enjoyed by NIH and the Institute Pasteur, can only ultimately benefit public health," remarked Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, Director of the NIH.
Dr. Alice Dautry, President of Institut Pasteur, echoed these sentiments in noting that "through this agreement Institut Pasteur and NIH reinforce their collaboration to benefit public health in the field of AIDS-HIV infection."
According to the latest figures published today in the UNAIDS/WHO 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update, an estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV. There were 4.3 million new infections in 2006 with 2.8 million (65 percent) of these occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and important increases in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where there are some indications that infection rates have risen by more than 50 percent since 2004. In 2006, 2.9 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.
Institut Pasteur, a private non-profit foundation, is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of diseases through research, education and public health activities. A large part of Institut Pasteur's research activities are devoted to infectious diseases with important efforts on AIDS research. Since it was set up, Institut Pasteur has played a major role in combating diseases such as rabies, plague, diphtheria, tetanus, typhus, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and AIDS. Institut Pasteur is the heart of an International Network made up of 30 institutes spread over the five continents and bringing together 9,500 people. For more information, see www.pasteur.fr.
The Office of the Director, the central office location of the NIH Office of Technology Transfer, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)--The Nation's Medical Research Agency--is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.