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Toshiba and Institute of Human Virology to Develop Personalized Therapies for HIV

19 June, 2003


Toshiba Corporation
University of Maryland

Baltimore and Tokyo -- Toshiba Corporation and the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, today announced an important collaborative project directed at optimizing personal medication regimes for people who are HIV positive. The project is supported by the state of Maryland and Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute (MGSSI).

Recent advances in AIDS management have resulted in medication regimes based on cocktails of different antiretroviral drugs that can reduce the virus to almost undetectable levels. The project at IHV will seek to optimize the efficacy of different regimes in order to provide patients with a tailor-made therapy.

Under its Director, Dr. Robert C. Gallo, co-discoverer of HIV, the IHV directs the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research toward speeding the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide range of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders -- particularly HIV, the cause of AIDS. Among its areas of research are pharmacogenomics, the way in which an individual's genetic inheritance affects responses to drugs. Progress here will lead the way to tailor-made medicine for individuals -- and much more effective treatment.

Toshiba emerged as an important contributor to pharmagenomics through its development of an electrochemical DNA chip that is able to analyze and type single nucleotide polymorphisms -- common DNA sequence variations among individuals that significantly advance abilities to treat disease. Most DNA chips available are based on fluorescence detection technology that uses a laser to irradiate sample and then measures fluorescence. The result is large, technical equipment. Toshiba's system of electrochemical detection offers simplicity, reliability and economy in a smaller package that can interface with IT systems.

The new chip already has been applied to treatment of hepatitis C in Japan, and provides a fast and efficient means of identifying patients who will respond to treatment with interferon.

IHV and Toshiba have collaborated on determining the best approach toward achieving personalized medicine for HIV infectious disease, and decided on gene analysis relating to the effects and side-effects of anti-HIV drugs. In the collaboration, patient responses to antiretroviral therapy will be analyzed in relation to the host genetic status gene factors, such as metabolic enzyme SNPs, that may influence toxicity and efficacy of the drugs. The results will be applied to (the study of) HAART, highly active antiretrovirus therapy based on Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs), Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs) and Protease Inhibitors (PIs).

Commenting on the research program, Dr. Gallo said: "Even in the best of scenarios, more than 50 percent of HIV patients currently fail therapy within the first two years. We find this project exciting for it will permit us to rapidly translate basic science insights regarding drug metabolism and toxicity and their impact on HIV therapy into improved patient care. Bringing scientific advances from bench to bedside has been a founding principle of the IHV and, to the extent that we can recognize biological causes for this and then circumvent them, this could become a major contribution to AIDS medicine globally." Dr. David Oldach, an IHV clinician and expert on hepatitis, is the principal investigator who will lead the project.

Dr. Nobuhiro Gemma, Group Manager of Toshiba's DNA Chip Project Group, also welcomed the project: "We are delighted to be working with one of the world's most respected researchers in virology, and with one of the leading centers for research into viral and immune disorders. AIDS is clearly a worldwide scourge, and we hope that our work with IHV will produce more efficient and more effective medication regimes that can be brought into play everywhere where HIV must be suppressed and defeated."

About Toshiba Corporation

Toshiba Corporation is a leader in information and communications systems, electronic components, consumer products and power systems. The company's integration of these wide-ranging capabilities assures its position as an innovator in advanced components, products and systems. Toshiba has more than 166,000 employees worldwide and annual sales of over US$47 billion.

About IHV (University of Maryland, Institute of Human Virology)

Founded in 1996, the Institute of Human Virology was established to create and develop a world-class center of excellence focusing on chronic viral diseases, most notably HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and virally-linked cancers. The IHV is dedicated to discovery, research, treatment and prevention of these diseases and its unique structure seeks to connect cohesive, multi-disciplinary research and clinical programs so that new treatments are streamlined from discovery to patient. For more information, visit www.ihv.org.

About MGSSI

MGSSI is a 100% subsidiary of Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui). MGSSI was created in 1999 as an independent think tank to help resolve problems standing in the way of business goals. Today, MGSSI serves as the "brain" or knowledge) resource center of the vast Mitsui organization, providing strategic information and consultation services to help plan and coordinate Mitsui's global business activities, and to determine new business directions. For more information, visit http://mitsui.mgssi.com/english/mgssi.pdf

Mitsui is Japan's largest sogo shosha, or trading and investing conglomerate. With nearly 170 offices and 750 associated companies operating in over 90 countries, Mitsui offers partners and clients an unparalleled global spectrum of products and services.

Press Contacts:

Toshiba Corporation:
Midori Suzuki
International Media Relations Group
Corporate Communications Office
Tel: ++81-3-3457-2105
Fax: ++81-3-5444-9202
E-mail: press@toshiba.co.jp

Institute of Human Virology:
Gwen Fariss Newman
Director of Public Affairs
Tel: +1- 410-706-4616
Fax: +1- 410-706-1952
E-mail: newmang@umbi.umd.edu


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