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Glaxo unveils new anti-Aids initiative

Glaxo Wellcome, the drugs group which dominates the anti-Aids market, yesterday unveiled an initiative which will attempt to overcome the problems of resistance to treatments. The group is launching a collaboration with Affymetrix, now an associate company as a result of Glaxo's takeover of the Affymax US drug discovery group in 1995, to determine whether advances in genetic research can be used to better understand the progress of HIV and Aids.

The efficacy of current treatments using "cocktails" which include Glaxo's Retrovir and Epivir drugs was confirmed at a conference in Washington over the weekend, but the tendency for the virus to mutate has hampered their effects. The new programme will involve Glaxo acquiring so-called GeneChips from Affymetrix, which enable genetic information on HIV to be correlated with the effects of drugs and the patient's health. If an initial database proves successful, it will be expanded to collect information on "tens of thousands" of HIV-infected patients.

James Niedel, Glaxo's research and development director, said: "By bringing the scientific advances made in the field of genetics to bear on the most difficult questions in the clinic, we hope to be able to improve the current utilisation of anti-HIV therapies in a way that will benefit patients through tailor-made treatment approaches."