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amfAR Pledges Millions to Research and HIV Cure

amfAR Pledges Millions to Research and HIV Cure

The Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR), will be awarding $2.1 million in grants and fellowships, with $1.6 million going strictly toward cure-focused research.

The Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR), will be awarding $2.1 million in grants and fellowships, with $1.6 million going strictly toward cure-focused research, the organization announced this week. Thirteen grants ranging between $120,000 and $125,000 were awarded to research teams in Australia, Sweden, San Francisco and Baltimore.

The aim for the new funds will focus on understanding how, where, and why HIV persists within infected people even while they are currently on specified medication. The studies will focus on isolating infected cells in order to determine how they function and replicate. The new funds will also help researchers employ the latest technological advances such as laser dissection techniques and cell regeneration drugs.

"At amfAR, we're increasingly excited about the work that emerges from the cure-focused studies we fund, which is why we're now spending 60 percent of our research grant dollars on cure research" said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. Although it may prove difficult to determine how and where HIV-infected cells hide in the body, the prospects of newly funded research are encouraging according to Frost, "As we keep uncovering new information about the virus, we're increasingly confident that we will be able to find a cure for HIV/AIDS in our lifetime."

Other projects funded by amfAR will analyze viral infections and how they compare across long stretches of time. For example at Johns Hopkins University, researchers will will look at how HIV reservoirs become established in people who develop little immune response to HIV infections to better understand how the virus persists without the confounds of an immune response. And at the University of California, San Francisco, researchers will examine possibilities for a cure by targeting ancient retroviruses existing in stretches of DNA that are millions of years old and present in the human genome.

"There's still so much we don't know about HIV, but I'm increasingly impressed with how much we can learn about the virus through vigorous, informed, and creative research projects in such a short amount of time" said amfAR's Vice President and Director of Researcher Dr. Rowena Johnston.

Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $325 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide. - By Ivan Villanueva

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