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International Partnership for Microbicides Receives US $130 Million from UK Government and the Gates Foundation
Date:2/24/2009

New support will accelerate development of new tools to help women protect themselves from HIV

SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) announced today that it has received a total of US $130 million in grants from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reinforcing the global commitment to address the HIV epidemic in women.

Globally, 7,000 new cases of HIV infection and almost 6,000 AIDS-related deaths occur each day. Due to a mix of biology, culture, and socio-economic factors, women and young girls increasingly bear the burden of the HIV epidemic. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women are more than three times as likely to be infected as young men.

The two grants will support efforts to develop microbicides that give women the power to prevent HIV infection. DFID pledged 20 million pounds Sterling ($28.5 million, Euro 22.6 million) and the Gates Foundation committed $100 million (Euro 79.5 million, 70.3 million pounds) to IPM.

The announcement follows the encouraging results last month of a US National Institutes of Health Microbicide Trials Network clinical trial of the microbicide candidate PRO2000, which showed that the product was 30 percent more effective than any other arm of the study in preventing HIV. While the data from this study are not definitive and results from additional trials are needed to confirm these findings, this important milestone supports the concept that a microbicide could prevent HIV infection.

"We applaud the UK government and the Gates Foundation for their continued commitment to women's health and HIV prevention research," said Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, Chief Executive Officer of IPM. "Safe and effective microbicides have the potential to save millions of lives by giving women an HIV prevention option that they can initiate and control. Taken together, these grants by two of IPM's longstanding donors will provide additional momentum to deliver on this promise."

IPM is a nonprofit product development partnership accelerating the development and availability of safe and effective microbicides - topical products being developed to prevent HIV transmission during sexual intercourse - for women in developing countries. IPM's microbicide candidates are based on the same anti-retroviral compounds that have proven successful in treating HIV in millions of patients around the world.

"We are pleased to join DFID in supporting research on an HIV prevention method that would put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women, who often are unable to insist on abstinence or condoms," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, President of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We've learned a great deal from HIV microbicide prevention trials conducted so far, and we're optimistic that IPM's continued work will lead to future breakthroughs."

This is the Gates Foundation's second grant to IPM, and DFID's third grant to the organization. Along with funding from other donors, these new commitments will advance IPM's robust program to develop its leading candidate microbicides and delivery technologies. This includes a large-scale efficacy trial scheduled for 2011, and support for global access to microbicides when available.

"With five people infected with HIV every minute, the spread of HIV is set to spiral out of control unless we act now," said International Development Minister Ivan Lewis. "The development of an effective microbicide will enable women to protect themselves against infection and could be available long before a vaccine for HIV is found. New research is vital to halt this epidemic and we must increase our efforts now."

In November 2008, at a meeting on "Joining forces to accelerate the development of new prevention technologies for HIV," the UK government committed 220 million pounds for the development of prevention technologies for diseases including HIV, TB and malaria. DFID has long been a world leader in supporting product development partnerships like IPM, which are developing drugs, microbicides, vaccines and other technologies to help reduce the disease burden on the world's most underserved populations.

"Women are disproportionately infected and affected by HIV/AIDS across the globe, and we need a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes new methods designed to meet their needs," said Dr. Alex Coutinho, chair of IPM's Board of Directors and executive director of the Infectious Disease Institute at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. "This funding will drive scientific progress that could give millions of women a genuine opportunity to protect themselves from HIV."

While existing prevention strategies are essential, microbicides could offer women a powerful new way to protect themselves against HIV. IPM will bring pioneering HIV prevention technologies into 10 new clinical studies this year, including long-acting vaginal gels and vaginal rings that could provide sustained protection for up to a month. The studies will take place in several African countries, approximately four European countries (including the UK) and in the United States.

Additional IPM supporters include the governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States, the European Commission, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, and the World Bank.

About IPM: IPM is a nonprofit product development partnership established in 2002 to prevent HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of safe and effective vaginal microbicides in developing countries where women are at greatest risk for infection. IPM has offices in Belgium, the United States and South Africa. Please visit www.ipm-microbicides.org.

About DFID: DFID, the Department for International Development: leading the British Government's fight against world poverty. Find out more about the major global poverty challenges and get the facts on what DFID is doing to fight them: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/aboutdfid/howwefightpoverty.asp.


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SOURCE The International Partnership for Microbicides
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