AmfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research has announced two grants totaling $1.16 million in support of efforts to develop a gene therapy strategy for HIV and to better understand how post-treatment control (PTC) works.
Awarded through the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE), a grant program designed to foster collaboration among teams of scientists, the grants include $344,000 for a project led by Keith Jerome at the University of Washington, Seattle that will compare the effectiveness of eleven vectors in delivering gene-editing tools to the specific tissues being targeted. The lead candidates will then be used in future studies of combination in vivo gene therapy interventions.
In addition, a grant of $815,000 was awarded to Jonathan Li and his team at Brigham and Women's Hospital to gather and analyze data from post-treatment controllers — HIV-positive individuals who are able to control the virus after stopping antiretroviral therapy — with the aim of discovering the mechanism of PTC. Bringing data from a multinational cohort of PTC individuals under one streamlined analysis plan, the team will investigate whether characteristics of the virus or immunologic responses can predict post-treatment control.
"We're excited to be supporting these immensely talented research teams and their very different but very promising avenues of investigation," said amfAR vice president and director of research Rowena Johnston. "These research areas have enormous potential for giving us the tools to control the virus without the need for lifelong treatment or, in the case of gene therapy, to eliminate it altogether. Either outcome could dramatically alter the lives of the millions of people living with HIV worldwide."
(Photo credit: amfAR)