The Animal Models and Viral Persistence Laboratory, led by Dr. Bolton, focuses on immune responses to vaccination and mechanisms of viral persistence during HIV/SIV infection. Her team explores the adaptive immune responses to prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine regimens to elucidate cellular and humoral correlates of protection. Emphasis is placed on pre-clinical nonhuman primate animal models as well as clinical trials.
Persistence of HIV-1 reservoirs represents the primary barrier to curing HIV-1 infection. Cure strategies aiming to eliminate infected cell reservoirs are hampered by a poor understanding of host cells harboring virus in vivo, including biomarkers that definitively distinguish them. The Bolton Lab probes clinical and pre-clinical specimens for infected cells by state-of-the-art molecular analyses to address questions regarding: 1) infected cell burden across anatomical compartments and infection stages; and 2) novel host factors involved in viral replication and persistence. These studies inform preventative vaccines and therapeutic curative interventions.