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VCU Receives $4.4 Million Grant To Lead AIDS Drug Research Effort

Monday, June 23, 2014  
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A $4.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering and collaborating research universities an opportunity to supply developing countries with affordable access to AIDS drugs.

Due to his extensive experience in pharmaceutical process development, B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., VCU School of Engineering research professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, will serve as the principal investigator of the entire effort. With his leadership, an interdisciplinary team will focus on cost improvements for the drug nevirapine. The World Health Organization considers nevirapine a first-line therapy for the treatment of AIDS.

Gupton stresses that “People don't realize how big of an issue AIDS is. It's growing by 14% globally a year and 30% of all childbearing women in South Africa have AIDS.”

“The objective of this effort is to identify a manufacturing route leading to nevirapine that utilizes the lowest cost raw materials and ultra-efficient manufacturing tools,” continues Gupton. “We anticipate this approach will not only lead to a new API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) manufacturing process paradigm that will reduce the cost of nevirapine, but may also be applied to other important drug targets, as well."

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