Danes at the Forefront of HIV Research  

2015.03.13

A team of researchers from Aarhus University that is behind an innovative approach to combatting HIV has been given a major American funding boost and will start new human trials later this year.

A team of researchers at Aarhus University have been given a $1.5 million grant from the American Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR) to further develop its innovative ‘kick and kill’ approach to expose HIV cells. The Aarhus team, led by Ole Schmeltz Søgaard, will join forces with researchers from Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Cologne in Germany to work on a drug combination that can force HIV into the bloodstream, where it can then be taken on by the body’s immune system.

An innovative approach

The Aarhus-based team carried out a study on six HIV-positive patients and found that for five of them, being treated with the cancer drug romidepsin led to the HIV virus increasing to a measurable level. By activating the HIV cells, it set the stage for the patients’ T-cells to attack the virus. While the patients in the study did not destroy the virus, the Aarhus team will now try to combine their ‘kick and kill’ technique with an experimental HIV vaccine to try to generate an immune response potent enough to wipe out the virus. 

A large investment strategy

The grant to the Aarhus team is part of the biggest grant expansion in the amfAR Foundation’s 30-year history. In addition to funding Søgaard’s project, the foundation’s $100 million investment strategy includes the establishment of a new institute dedicated to finding a cure for aids by 2020:

"Our investment strategy is designed to ensure that we can support every scientific effort across the spectrum of biomedical research that has the potential to overcome one or more of the key scientific barriers to a cure for HIV", amfAR’s Director of Research, Rowena Johnston, said in a press release.

 

Source:The Local

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