India, South Africa Team Up to Fight HIV

India and South Africa have partnered up to fight HIV/AIDS and develop a new vaccine to fight the HIV sub-type that is most prevalent in both countries, according to The research initiative is expected to launch by the end of the year and marks a major turning point for “South-south” collaborations.

India and South Africa produce less than six percent of the world’s research in basic science and health. So their collaboration is seen as a potential model for future developing country collaborations — and has implications way beyond HIV.

The $1 million dollar research initiative, already approved by both governments, will be for five years and will revolve around five core research groups in each country. Clade C HIV, which this research project will tackle, is one of 10 HIV sub-types. It accounts for over 90% of HIV infections in India and South Africa. The joint research will focus on designing antibodies against the clade C type.

“The major problem related to HIV/AIDS research is that … with the exception of the USA, the industrialised countries are not interested,” said New Delhi’s International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Director, Virander Chauhan, in the report.

“It is rich countries like Japan and Switzerland that should increase their research contribution in the field if society can expect to have a cure for HIV/AIDS.” 

We reported earlier this month on India’s recent ascension to becoming a major lifeline to the developing world, producing cheap, generic, life-saving drugs and vaccines. With this initiative, the world’s largest democracy continues its bid to become a global leader in drug development — and proves that it can play well with others.

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[Image: Picasa user Matt]JN