The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced on January 20, the finalization of a Common Material Transfer Agreement (cMTA) for the donation and use of antiretroviral drugs for pre-clinical studies in HIV cure research. This major achievement is the result of more than a year of negotiation with leading pharmaceutical companies.
“This agreement will greatly accelerate the transfer of drugs for cure and remission studies,” said Nobel Laureate and Co-founder of the IAS Towards an HIV Cure initiative Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. “Many were skeptical that we would reach this point but today’s agreement proves the importance of collaboration in HIV Cure research.”
The cMTA will significantly shorten the process for transfer of drugs, ultimately accelerating scientific advances in particular for academic researchers working on the use of combination ART to control virus replication in pre-clinical animal models of HIV cure. The agreement allows researchers to receive marketed ARVs from multiple pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, researchers will be permitted to combine the drugs with the aim of achieving and maintaining a virally suppressed state upon which to evaluate hypotheses for remission or cure therapies.
The cMTA was developed by the IAS Towards an HIV Cure Industry Collaboration Group (ICG), whose mission is to foster dialogue and collaboration between the private and the public sector involved in HIV cure research. The cMTA was spearheaded by five pharmaceutical companies: ViiV Healthcare, Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.
Importantly, the agreement contains a provision that mandates recipient institutions to provide non-exclusive licenses for potential cure breakthroughs to all parties who request them; not only to the pharmaceutical partners providing the ARVs.
“The ICG’s ability to reach consensus on this agreement reaffirms the commitment of the scientific community, both public and private, to find a cure for HIV,” said Chris Beyrer, President of the IAS and Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“The cMTA illustrates the industry and private sector joint commitment to advancing research that could lead to HIV remission and ultimately a cure,” commented Dominique Limet, CEO of ViiV Healthcare. “The agreement not only provides a novel framework for the receipt and use of multiple antiretrovirals, but it also embodies a genuine international collaborative spirit of sharing and openness in the fight against HIV.”