Five-Year Grants Total $14 million in First Year
July 11, 2011 - Three research teams focused on developing strategies that could help to rid the body of HIV are
receiving grants totaling more than $14 million a year, for up to five years, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health announced today.
The grants are part of the Martin Delaney Collaboratory , a
funding opportunity designed to foster public-private partnerships to accelerate progress toward an HIV cure. Delaney, an influential
AIDS activist, died of liver cancer in 2009.
Although antiretroviral therapy enables many people infected with HIV to effectively control their virus levels and thereby stay
relatively healthy, some virus remains hidden in a latent or persistent form in cells and tissues where it is not susceptible to
antiretrovirals. Each research team will pursue a unique and complementary approach aimed at eradicating these remaining HIV
reservoirs. To fulfill their role as members of a collaboratory, the teams will also meet periodically as their research
progresses to find ways to work together.
"Martin Delaney was a true hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and he believed, as we do, that progress toward a cure for
HIV/AIDS can be made through partnerships among scientists in government, industry and academia," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
"These new grants, and the collaboratory to which they belong, are one way in which we honor his memory and advance his vision."
The research teams receiving the grants include the following:
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, working with Sangamo Biosciences Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in
Richmond, Calif. -In five projects led by co-principal investigators Keith R. Jerome, M.D., Ph.D., and Hans-Peter Kiem, M.D., of FHCRC,
scientists will attempt to develop proteins that directly attack HIV reservoirs, and they also will study whether a patient's immune
cells can be made resistant to the virus. These approaches for eliminating the viral reservoirs will be further tested in a
preclinical model. Five core facilities will be funded as well, to provide shared resources and support services to
facilitate the collaborative projects. First-year funding is $4.1 million.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), working with Merck Research Laboratories, headquartered in Whitehouse Station, N.J. -Led
by principal investigator David Margolis, M.D., of UNC, this initiative consists of 15 scientific projects and four core facilities located
at multiple universities nationwide. The researchers aim to enhance the understanding of how HIV persists in patients on antiretroviral
therapy, and to develop small-molecule drug candidates and other therapies to target the viral reservoirs. First-year funding is $6.3 million.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI) in Port St. Lucie, Fla., also
working with Merck Research Laboratories -Led by co-principal investigators Steven Deeks, M.D., and Mike McCune, M.D., Ph.D., of UCSF, and
Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, Ph.D., of VGTI, this research initiative comprises seven projects and three core facilities. The researchers seek
to define the nature and location of the cells where HIV hides, better understand the immunology of how these viral reservoirs are
created and maintained, and develop and test targeted treatments that eliminate HIV reservoirs without broadly activating the
immune system. First-year funding is $4.2 million.
NIAID is providing primary funding for the grants. Additional funding comes from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), also
part of NIH. Funding beyond the first year is subject to the availability of appropriations. Sangamo Biosciences and Merck Research
Laboratories will not receive federal funds for their contribution to this research.
For more information about NIAID HIV/AIDS research, visit NIAID's HIV/AIDS Web portal .
NIAID conducts and supports research-at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide-to study the causes of infectious and
immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases,
fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site
at http://www.niaid.nih.gov .
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and s
upporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for
both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov .