LONDON, UK; 4th March 2003
A new independent not-for-profit organization, RDI Ltd, has been formed to lead an international collaboration to combat HIV drug resistance and improve the clinical outlook for people with HIV/AIDS. The organisation was formed and is steered by the global network of scientists who originally developed the concept of the HIV Resistance Response Database Initiative (RDI) to pioneer a new approach to HIV resistance.
The RDI, is collecting clinical data from thousands of HIV patients around the world into a database. Artificial intelligence is then used on the data to define the complex ways changes in HIV's genetic code, for example, can determine whether a patient will respond to certain drugs. The radical new approach could enhance the ability of physicians to choose the most effective drugs for their patients and improve their prognosis.
"The establishment of our initiative as an independent, not-for-profit organisation is helping us collect the data and secure the support we need to define the link between resistance and treatment response more accurately", commented Professor Julio Montaner, a member of the RDI Scientific Core Group and Professor of Medicine and Chair in AIDS Research, University of British Columbia, Canada.
Having secured funding covering its set-up and initial operation the RDI is now seeking longer-term funding and collaboration with a range of research institutions, pharmaceutical companies and other organisations.
"I would urge institutions and companies to get involved with this important initiative now, at the start, urged Dr Montaner. "By contributing data and providing financial support they can be part of an important global effort to overcome HIV resistance".
Today also sees the launch of the RDI's new web site at www.hivrdi.org. The site provides information on the organisation, its research, initial results, the services it intends to provide, funding, collaborators and other information.
"The new web site provides a pretty comprehensive introduction to the group and the approach we are taking to address the problem of HIV drug resistance", stated RDI Chief Executive, Dr Andrew Revell. "In time we hope that the site will act as a portal for the exchange of data and for scientists to submit specific HIV resistance queries to the database in the course of their research."
One of the main reasons why HIV treatment fails is that mutations in the genetic code of HIV cause resistance to HIV drugs. Tests are already available to read these genetic changes. The RDI database is designed to enhance the predictive power of such tests by relating genetic changes in HIV directly to virological response to drug therapy, using the largest collection of clinical data of its kind in the world.
There are already several organisations involved in or working with the RDI including the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, Canada, US Military HIV Research Group, intramural scientists from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the University of Siena, Italy, as well as a number of individual researchers. The group is actively seeking other organisations with appropriate data to participate in this unique global initiative.
"The key to success of this initiative is the amount of clinical data in the database", commented Dr Brendan Larder, Chair of the RDI Scientific Core Group. "While no one company or organisation can generate enough on its own, the RDI represents a unique opportunity for individuals institutions and companies around the world to share their data and I am delighted that it is gathering such momentum."
RDI Limited is registered in the UK as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and with no share capital. The RDI is headquartered in London UK, with research based in Cambridge, UK. The data provided to the RDI does not contain any information relating to patient identity, so confidentiality is absolutely assured.
The RDI Scientific Core Group comprises the following scientists and clinicians:
1. Brendan Larder - Cambridge, UK, Chair
2. Victor DeGruttola - Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
3. Richard Harrigan - BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, BC, Canada
4. Julio Montaner - BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, BC, Canada
5. Scott Wegner - US Military HIV/AIDS Program, Washington, DC, USA
6. Maurizio Zazzi - HIV Monitoring Service, University of Siena, Italy
Date published: 4th March 2003