Two foundations to fund AIDS research have been created by French and American scientists as a result of the agreement between the two groups to share credit for discovering the cause of the disease, officials of the Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday.
The new foundations will be jointly administered by appointees of the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the National Institutes of Health here and will be dedicated to funding worldwide research on acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
The agreement, which resolved the dispute between the groups of scientists, was signed March 30. In addition to saying that labs led by Luc Montagnier at Pasteur and Robert Gallo at the National Cancer Institute would share credit for discovering the cause of AIDS, the agreement said that money coming from AIDS antibody tests would be shared equally.
As part of the three-year dispute, both the French researchers and their American counterparts claimed the right to patent and sell the technology resulting from the discovery of the AIDS virus.
Court battles had not settled the question of who had patent priority or who had contributed most to the discovery. But the standard test for signs of AIDS came out of the research of both labs, and each side created a version of the antibody test. The tests are now sold around the world, bringing in more than $5 million per year.
Both sides agreed to give 80 percent of the royalties from the antibody tests to the foundation called the French and American AIDS Foundation, and yesterday a check for $3.7 million was presented to establish it.
A quarter of that money will be put into research and education on AIDS in developing nations. Most of the rest of the money will be passed back to Pasteur and NIH for use in research on the biological, medical, and social aspects of AIDS.
Some of the first year's funding of the French and American foundation will also be used as startup money for a second foundation, to be called the World AIDS Foundation.
This foundation will then solicit funds on its own in an effort to fund research outside the Pasteur Institute and NIH, "to help fill any gaps in the worldwide effort to combat the AIDS epidemic, complementing the efforts of other bodies such as the World Health Organization," according to a statement released by HHS officials yesterday.