HIV, AIDS research and innovation platform gets off the ground

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Johannesburg - Government will later today unveil the South African HIV and AIDS Research and Innovation Platform (SHARP) to increase the number and quality of products to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV and AIDS.

Established by the department in 2008, SHARP is aimed at increasing quality products to diagnose HIV and AIDS through increased support for basic and applied research, development and innovation in the areas of anti-retrovirals (ARVs), microbicides, vaccines and diagnostics.

SHARP comes as a result of extensive consultation with expert researchers and stakeholders to fund pioneering HIV and AIDS research and facilitate the development of innovative solutions to the pandemic.

The platform will be based and managed at LIFElab, one of the three Biotechnology Regional Innovation Centres (BRICs) set up by the department, under the auspices of its National Biotechnology Strategy.

The centre will provide the necessary infrastructure in terms of administration, equipment, technical and scientific services.

"The platform will not be conducting research for the sake of discovery, but with a view to obtaining information directly useful in understanding the immunology, cytology and virology of the virus," the department said in a statement.

Prevention and therapeutics will be key focus areas and will also include conducting diagnostic tests, examining microbiocide, vaccine approaches, transmission, host virus interactions and medicinal plants for prevention.

It will further include therapy respectively, developing innovative behavioural strategies as well as assaying drug discovery, formulation and combination.

Minister Pandor will deliver a keynote address during the launch of SHARP later this afternoon.