Innovation and collaboration have paved the way for progress in HIV/AIDS research and treatment in recent years. In support of efforts to propel these scientific advances even further, Sidley helped our client GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) form a joint venture and research center to accelerate the search for a cure.
The 50/50 partnership consists of a new legal entity, Qura Therapeutics, with research operations in UNC’s newly formed HIV Cure center. Qura, the business side of the partnership, handles intellectual property, commercialization, manufacturing and governance. The HIV Cure center, located on UNC’s campus, serves as the collaboration hub where scientists will work to achieve a research breakthrough.
In structuring the sophisticated partnership between a state university and a for-profit company, Sidley’s team handled a variety of matters spanning multiple practice areas, including corporate, technology and intellectual property, M&A, tax and regulatory.
This innovative endeavor is an indicator of the great potential that can be harnessed when the business and academic worlds join forces. Both GSK and UNC have long been dedicated to HIV/AIDS research.
“There are a variety of ways that big pharma can partner with entrepreneurs, academia and other life sciences industry participants,” said Pran Jha, a partner in Sidley’s Corporate practice. “This transaction combines the resources of a big pharma company with a long legacy of HIV research success with a university that is at the forefront of HIV research,” he said.
The core team of Sidley’s lawyers consisted of Jha and former partner Jeff Rothstein, as well as associate Lauren Grau and former associates Alyse Andalman and Adam Kreis. Sidley’s lawyers worked closely with their counterparts in GSK’s legal department: Mitul Shah, Robert Smith, Deborah Winter and Diane Maginnis.
GSK, which will invest $20 million over five years, selected UNC for the partnership because of its leadership in HIV/AIDS research. While the scope of research will be broad, scientists will explore an approach called “shock-and-kill,” which eradicates HIV, rather than simply containing it.
Both parties hope that the high-profile venture could attract additional partners and public funding, as well as top talent from around the world.
“The vehicle we helped to create is meant to be a catalyst to attract grant funding from a lot of different places,” said Jha. “We’ve put together the foundation for something that can grow in size and complexity as time goes on,” he said.