Merck partners with universities to research ways to eradicate HIV

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — A team comprised of scientists from drug maker Merck and several U.S. universities will look for ways to eradicate HIV, Merck said.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that researchers at nine universities and Merck scientists would study HIV latency and find ways to purge persistent infection of the virus from the body. In addition, the University of California San Francisco would organize an international team of academic, governmental and Merck scientists to work on a five-year research effort to define and better understand HIV’s reservoirs and test potential treatments.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, will be the main funding organization for both research efforts, though Merck will not receive any funding for its participation.

“Collaboration has been the hallmark of much of the progress made against HIV since the virus was first identified 30 years ago,” Merck Research Labs VP Daria Hazuda said. “Continued collaboration is absolutely essential to better understand HIV reservoirs and identify potential approaches to the daunting challenges of eradicating HIV.”