The Foundations for AIDS Research has announced a new round of grants totaling more than $1.4 million that will be given through its program, amFAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE) to four separate teams of scientists who are breaking ground in new research.
The scientists work at the leading institutions around the world and, with proper funding, are getting closer than ever finding a cure for HIV and AIDS.
“Through ARCHE, amfAR leverages the expertise and innovation of distinguished scientists from across the globe to advance cure-focused research,” amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost said in a statement. “Some of the most important recent advances in HIV research are the result of strategic collaborations among amfAR-funded scientists and are a testament to the success of our cooperative approach to research.”
AmFar last round of grantees have shown great success, including Dr. Deborah Persaud and Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, who functionally cured an infant of HIV earlier this year, and Timothy Henrich who cured two HIV-positive patients through stem cell transplants.
This year, amFAR's $1.4 million in funding will go to researchers in the U.S., U.K., France, Thailand, and Australia. All four expect innovative breakthroughs in the coming years.
One group, led by Dr. Eric Arts, hopes to develop and test a vaccine-like HIV treatment that is specifically made for each patient's virus.
Another research group, led by Dr. Nicolas Chomont, will study HIV persistence in T-cell sublets during antiretroviral therapy, specifically the subsets of CD4+ T memory cells where HIV mainly resides, and the roles they may or may not play in a potential cure.
A third group, led by Dr. Scott Kitchen, will explore gene therapy using stem cells as a potential cure. They plan to modify stem cells so that they bind directly to HIV; the cells would then mature into a specific type of immune cell that can further kill HIV-infected ones.
The last group, led by Dr. Robert Siliciano, will continue studies on his recent finding that as many 50 cells may harbor viruses. The study will focus on identifying these cells and their properties to determine how the viruses may be induced out of the infected cells so they may be targeted by antiretroviral therapy.