Campbell Foundation Awards First Grant of 2014 to Further HIV Research in Search of a Cure

Researchers at VA Medical Center in Vermont recipients of $79,954 grant to support research designed to improve the anti-HIV and anti-Herpes (HSV-2) activity of the antiretroviral drug Tenofovir.

The Campbell Foundation has awarded a $79,954 grant to the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont to support research designed to improve the anti-HIV and anti-Herpes (HSV-2) activity of the antiretroviral drug Tenofovir.

"The Campbell Foundation and its Peer Review Board receive numerous applications annually from highly qualified researchers from around the world striving to discover better treatments for those with HIV," said the foundation's Program Officer Ken Rapkin. "Our Peer Review team was impressed with what these co-researchers have discovered thus far. After passing scientific evaluation, the foundation is pleased to play a role in their continued research that hopefully will lead to enhanced protection of women from HIV infection."

The research team developed strong preliminary data to show that HSV-2 (the herpes simplex virus) exacerbates HIV due to a molecule (CXCL9) that increases the number of HIV target cells, which in turn reduces the effectiveness of Tenofovir, an effective HIV drug.

The research team consists of co-investigators Christiane Rollenhagen, PhD (Dartmouth College and the VA Medical Center), and Susanna Asin, PhD (VA Medical Center, Dartmouth).

"This funding will allow us to understand whether, by blocking the inflammatory factor CXCL9, which is activated by the sexually transmitted virus herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2), we can decrease HIV-1 infection in women and improve the efficacy of Tenofovir," said Asin. "The herpes simplex virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world and has been shown to increase HIV-1 acquisition. The virus has the potential to decrease the effectiveness of Tenofovir. Given high infection rates by the herpes simplex virus in young sexually active individuals who are at risk for HIV-1, the findings from our studies will be important for the development of new therapies. These new therapies, when used in combination with HIV-1 microbicides, will likely improve the protective effect of these compounds, which will greatly benefit the HIV-1 community as a whole."

In addition, the funding will allow researchers at the VA to address the evolving needs of those in the military.

"Women are increasingly represented in the military and are anticipated to be exposed to sexually transmitted pathogens such as the ones addressed in our proposal," said Rollenhagen. "Thus, our research findings may result in the development of novel therapeutics to address reproductive health issues of our veterans. We are very grateful and honored to have been granted financial support from the Campbell Foundation."

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The Campbell Foundation was established in 1986 by the late Richard Campbell Zahn as a private, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting clinical, laboratory-based research into the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. It focuses its funding on supporting alternative, nontraditional avenues of research. In its 19th year, the Campbell Foundation has given away over $9 million dollars, with about $2 million going to direct services. For more information go to: www.campbellfoundation.net/

The White River Junction VA Medical Center (WRJ VAMC) is responsible for the delivery of health care services to eligible Veterans in Vermont and the 4 contiguous counties of New Hampshire. The White River Junction VA Medical Center and its seven Community Based Outpatient Clinics currently serves over 25,000 or Vermont and New Hampshire Veteran's health care needs.

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Tags: Campbell Foundation, Grant, HIV, research, White River Junction VA Medical


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