Through his discoveries, Professor Dennis Liotta has helped to transform HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic infection in which patients are able to live active, near normal lives. The Emory Office of Technology Transfer estimates that greater than ninety percent of all of the HIV-infected persons in the United States take (or have taken) one of the drugs he invented. His contributions are not restricted to AIDS: (a) one of the drugs he discovered, Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV), became the first drug approved for the treatment of hepatitis B; and (b) a company he founded, Pharmasset (acquired by Gilead Sciences two years ago) developed Sofosbuvir, which has become the first line therapy for treating (and perhaps curing) hepatitis C. Moreover, in his current role as Executive Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development, Dennis participated in the discovery and development of another novel nucleoside analogue, EIDD-2023, for treating hepatitis C infections. His research group has also recently discovered the first potent, dual tropic (CCR5/CXCR4) HIV entry inhibitor.
Over the past two and a half decades Dr. Liotta’s research has focused on the discovery and development of novel antiviral, anticancer and anti-inflammatory therapeutic agents. He is one of the leaders of the Emory team that discovered the antiviral drug, Emtriva (emtricitabine), which was approved for treating HIV in July 2003. Emtriva is a component of the ground breaking, once a day, triple combination therapy, Atripla, which is now universally accepted as the drug combination of choice for treating HIV infected patients. In addition, he is the inventor of record for several clinically important antivirals, including Epivir, Reverset, Racivir and Elvucitabine. He is also the lead inventor of Q-122 (formerly known as MSX-122), a safe, orally available clinical agent for controlling hot flashes in post-menopausal women.