Campbell Foundation Awards Grant to The George Washington University

Researchers hope to identify HIV biomarkers in quest to find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

One of the major challenges in the battle to eradicate AIDS has been the inability to target dormant HIV viruses. To do so, scientists need to learn about the specific characteristics, called biomarkers, of the cells that carry these dormant/latent viruses so that during treatment uninfected “bystander” cells are not killed as well.

Researchers at The George Washington University have been working toward identifying these biomarkers, which they believe to be the first step down the road to finding a cure for AIDS.

"Eradication of the latent reservoirs is a major goal in HIV 'cure' research. This highly-qualified team at GWU, if successful, would solve a problem that is of great clinical relevance for HIV patients and the physicians who care for them."

Ken Rapkin, Program Officer, Campbell Foundation

The Campbell Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. is pleased to announce it has awarded scientists at The George Washington University a $79,375 grant to help further this groundbreaking research. If successful, it could open new avenues for better pharmaceutical interventions in the quest to find a cure for AIDS.

“Eradication of the latent reservoirs is a major goal in HIV ‘cure’ research.  This highly-qualified team at GWU, if successful, would solve a problem that is of great clinical relevance for HIV patients and the physicians who care for them,” said The Campbell Foundation’s program officer Ken Rapkin.

Leading the study is Mudit Tyagi, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.

“The rare availability of latently infected cells in patients makes it impossible to isolate them in sufficient numbers to carry out characterization studies,” Tyagi said. “We have developed a model whereby we can generate large quantities of pure latently infected primary T- cells, enough to sufficiently provide the exclusive opportunity to characterize and determine the presence of unique biomarkers of latently infected primary T-cells.”

Latent reservoirs of HIV can be located throughout the body, including in the brain, lymphoid tissue and bone marrow. Because these cellular “reservoirs” remain invisible to the body’s immune defenses, existing drugs remain ineffective.

While antiretroviral therapies that exist today have been successful in controlling the spread of, and managing HIV, these drug regimens have not led to a cure. That means patients must take these drugs for the rest of their lives, which often leads to secondary medical problems that can be as mild as nausea or as severe as damage to the liver or pancreas.

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The Campbell Foundation was established in 1995 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 $1 million going to direct services. For more information go to: www.campbellfoundation.net

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Categories: Non Profit, Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), Infectious Diseases

Tags: AIDS, AIDS research, George Washington University, HIV, The Campbell Foundation


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