The Campbell Foundation Awards Grant to HIV/AIDS Researcher to Develop HIV-1 Killer Peptides
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Susan R. Miller
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, May 2, 2016 -- The Campbell Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding HIV/AIDS research, has awarded a $75,000 grant to Dr. Irwin Chaiken and his team of researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia who are looking to develop an effective delivery system targeting hidden reservoirs of the HIV virus.
The researcher’s aim is to suppress HIV infection and its progression using specially designed molecules, which target the protein on the HIV surface that is needed for the virus to enter cells and start the infection cycle.
Despite the development of effective combination drug regimens to treat HIV-1, the need remains for long-acting antiretroviral formulations to treat those infected by HIV. Some patients, including those affected by mental illness, drug abuse and socioeconomic conditions, are unable to adhere to the rigorous daily oral therapy, thereby failing to achieve full viral suppression.
"Achieving full viral suppression of HIV has proven difficult, even in an age of effective drug regimens,” said Campbell Foundation Executive Director Ken Rapkin. “This research team will look into blocking HIV-1 entry and inhibit HIV replication in the latent reservoirs that harbor the virus. The goal of developing a long-acting antiretroviral would be key to the overall health of those with HIV, as well as reducing the possibility of transmission."
Dr. Chaiken’s team has already made significant headway in demonstrating the feasibility to formulate peptide triazole inactivators of HIV-1 in liposomes for sustained release. (A liposome is a tiny bubble made out of the same material as a cell membrane that can be filled with drugs, and used to deliver them to treat diseases such as HIV and cancer). Liposomal drug delivery has expanded considerably in the treatment of various diseases due to enhanced efficacy, prolonged activity and reduced systemic toxicity.
“The development of a long-acting formulation of HIV-1 inactivators that can selectively target and kill infectious viruses, viruses activated from latent reservoirs, and activated latently infected cells (the “kill” component of “kick and kill” approach to attacking latent reservoirs), could suppress virus infection, progression and spread,” said Dr. Chaiken. “Long-acting treatments may also lead to ‘treatment as prevention’ pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) strategies.”
The foundation’s scientific Peer Review Board members noted the following:
“Dr. Chaiken has pioneered the area of peptide inhibitors, which cannot be given orally, so the move to long-lasting injectables is an appropriate move.”
“The proposal is interesting and will ultimately provide some very interesting data and potential alternative treatment modalities.”
“I think it’s a very interesting proposal, with an excellent team of multidisciplinary investigators with a track record in this kind research and drug development.”
“Long-active antiretrovirals are key to improving adherence in certain patient populations, here and abroad. The availability of such treatment would not only improve their overall health, but also reduce the possibility of transmission, both important goals.”
The Campbell Foundation’s funding will allow researchers not only to achieve key aims of the research, but also to work toward advancing to clinical investigations in the future.
ABOUT THE CAMPBELL FOUNDATION
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 21st year, the Campbell Foundation has given away more than $10 million dollars, with about $1 million going to direct services. For more information visit www.campbellfoundation.net. Follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
ABOUT DREXEL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Drexel University College of Medicine has established some of the most highly innovative and rigorous academic programs available today, incorporating the university’s expertise in engineering and technology into traditional medical training. The College of Medicine is home to one of the nation’s leading centers for spinal cord research; one of the foremost centers for malaria study; and a highly regarded HIV/AIDS program with extensive NIH-funded research in prevention and therapeutic interventions. Drexel University College of Medicine has been designated a Vanguard National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and is highly respected in numerous other specialties including cardiology and the neurosciences. Visit www.drexel.edu/medicine for more information. Follow Drexel University College of Medicine on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.