The PhillyVoice reported a biomedical research organization, located in Philadelphia, was one of six recipients of a $30 million grant to help in finding a cure for HIV. The announcement came at the beginning of July 2016, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH will award the funding for five years, as part of the Martin Delaney Collaborations for HIV Cure Research. Luis J. Montane and James L. Riley, Ph.D., will lead the research at the Wistar Institute.
According to Defeat HIV, Delaney was known to be a leader, activist, and a public health hero. There are few people who have had a larger impact on the HIV and AIDS health policies than him. From the early 1980s, Delaney worked as an educator and an advocate for patients with HIV and AIDS. In 1985, Delaney also founded Project Inform, which is stationed in San Francisco.
Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is quoted to say, that without the work of Delaney and his vision many people with HIV and AIDS would have died. The NIAID supports the new research program for HIV.
Fauci says that a safe, easy, and sizable cure for HIV would fast track the progress in putting an end to the pandemic. He also added that the Martin Delaney Collaboratory program will aid in this acceleration progress.
There are about 37 million people worldwide who currently live with HIV, and 17 million people receive antiretroviral therapy (ART). Even with remarkable advances in ART, and the first reports of HIV and AIDS in the early 1980s, researchers across the world still search for answers for the dormant genetic pool that the disease builds in the immune system. At the moment ART can only target the virus when it is actively cloning. Unfortunately, this leaves patients with infected blood and tissue that can lead to a larger infection.
The Three Pillars of Research
Researchers will investigate where the virus hides after ART treatments. The research will also make objective strategies for a cure that eradicates the latent virus. The project will focus on three pillars of study.
- The first pillar will focus on fingerprinting HIV in cells that are infected. This will allow researchers to trace signs of the virus in places of the body which may not have been studied as carefully in the past.
- The second pillar will stimulate innate immunity through the use of combination immunotherapy. This is an approach that utilizes an array of existing and unique antibodies against HIV.
- The third pillar will focus on a genetic strategy based on recent successes in the trials of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR), T-cell therapy. Researchers will grow and engineer killer T-cells that will be administered to patients. The hope is to improve conditions for T-cells to multiply and kill cells infected with HIV.
CNN News reports that only one person, to date, has been completely cured of the HIV infection. Timothy Brown was cured with a dangerous and expensive stem cell transplant. The stem cells came from a donor who was immune to HIV. Researchers say that Brown’s treatment is not a practical route to cure other people, but it did show the world one very important thing; curing HIV is possible.
Riley says that the trials are supposed to show, for the first time ever, what the long-term results of the killer cells are in eradicating HIV.
By Tracy Blake
Edited by Jeanette Smith
PhillyVoice: Philadelphia consortium awarded millions for landmark HIV cure research
Defeat HIV: Martin Delaney Collaboratory
CNN News: Cancer research could help the search towards an HIV cure
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Melanie’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License