The Campbell Foundation Funds HIV Research to Eliminate Hidden HIV Reservoirs
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Aug. 26, 2022 – Flushing out hidden reservoirs of HIV from the body is one of the greatest challenges facing researchers today. Even with anti-retroviral therapy (ART), these latent proviruses, (the viral DNA which inserts into a host cell's chromosome), cannot be eradicated.
People who are living with HIV/AIDS can keep the virus in check with ART medications, but the HIV reservoirs persist. If medication is stopped, the reservoirs start producing and circulating more virus into the body so eliminating these latent reservoirs would be a game changer in the fight to end HIV/AIDS.
The Campbell Foundation has provided an $85,000 grant to Iván D’Orso, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and his team who are studying a new approach (chemical genetics) to determine how latent HIV is maintained within the body and how it is reactivated. The focus of this research project is to implement this technology to identify appropriate targets for therapeutic interventions by first interrogating a prioritized set of host cell factors potentially contributing to viral persistence.
“If successful, our studies will revolutionize the field by implementing a new technology for acute factor depletion allowing recording ‘direct’ effects on HIV proviral latency maintenance and/or reactivation and by identifying new targets for therapeutic interventions in near future pre-clinical studies,” said D’Orso.
Concerning this research project, foundation Executive Director Ken Rapkin said, “This work is very important to the research community as well as those living with HIV/AIDS moving forward. Eliminating the body’s HIV reservoir sites is a crucial step in completely eradicating the virus. If their approach pans out, it can lead to therapeutic strategies for targeting these latent proviruses that allow for viral rebound once meds are stopped.”
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. As The Campbell Foundation prepares to celebrate its 27th year, it has given away more than $12 million, with nearly $1.5 million of that going to direct services.
Lichterfeld and Koofhethile of the famed Lichterfeld lab at Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard study HIV-infected cells that persist in infected individuals despite antiretroviral therapy. In the research being funded by The Campbell Foundation, they plan to study how HIV can persist for decades in those who have been on ART for a long period of time.