AmfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research has announced six grants totaling $1.2 million through its Investment Awards program.
The organization's latest round of grants will support HIV researchers and bioengineers with expertise in advanced technologies such as microfluidics, gene-editing, nanotechnology, mass spectrometry, and single-cell magnetic levitation working to address the persistent reservoirs of virus not cleared by antiretroviral therapy. Part of amfAR's $100 million Countdown to a Cure for AIDS initiative, the latest awards are milestone-based grants that will provide up to $1.5 million to each research team over four years, with the goal of establishing a scientific basis for a cure by the end of 2020.
The recipients of the awards are Eli Boritz and Davi Weitz of the National Institutes of Health, who were awarded $200,000 for a single-cell transcriptomic analysis of HIV reservoirs before and after systemic interleukin-2 therapy; Timothy Henrich and Utkan Demirci of the University of California, San Francisco, who will receive $200,000 in support of their efforts to use single-cell levitation to identify, isolate, and characterize HIV reservoirs; Keith Jerome and Kim Woodrow of the University of Washington, who were awarded $200,000 for research on the use of targeted nanocarriers to accelerate depletion of HIV reservoirs; Priti Kumar and Mark Saltzman of Yale University, who will receive $200,000 for research on the use of targeted inactivation of integrated HIV through host cell DNA repair pathways; Jeremy Luban and Scot Wolfe of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, who were awarded $200,000 for their research on the use of bifunctional nucleases programmed by HIV-1 mRNA for reservoir eradication; and Hui Zhang and Weiming Yang of Johns Hopkins University, who will receive $199,444 to explore the deciphering of latency-associated sugar-code to detect and eliminate latent HIV reservoirs.
"Over the past couple of decades, stunning advances in bioengineering have led to the development of new technologies and therapeutics that will likely have a profound impact on treating and eradicating diseases," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. "Many of these exciting new technologies have yet to be evaluated in the realm of HIV cure research, and we hope this new round of grants lays the groundwork for some innovative approaches to a cure."