Bethesda, MD – MHRP is part of two multi-institution research teams, or “Collaboratories”, that were awarded funds from NIH to develop an integrated approach to finding an HIV cure. These research projects bring together some of the leading researchers in the cure field and will help advance strategies to induce HIV remission.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced awards for 10 Collaboratories at approximately $53 million in annual funding over 5 years under the Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure Research program.
Immunotherapy for Cure Collaboratory
MHRP is part of a multi-disciplinary Collaboratory called I4C 2.0: Immunotherapy for Cure. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is the primary recipient, and MHRP is one of the three teams leading this collaboration along with the University of Pittsburgh.
By leveraging clinical data and samples with preclinical work, researchers aim to improve our understanding of viral persistence and vulnerability to immunologic targeting. Ultimately, the I4C team aims to develop and test novel immunologic strategies for virus remission and eradication including therapeutic vaccines and broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNabs).
This multifaceted research program involves partnerships among academia, industry, government, and the community. At the center of MHRP’s efforts is a Thai acute HIV infection cohort study, RV254, which is a collaboration between MHRP, the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center and the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI) to identify acutely infected individuals and place them onto ART immediately.
Through RV254, researchers have been able to identify more than 680 people found to be acutely infected, and nearly all of them began ART within days of discovering their status. Researchers have found that this very early initiation of ART results in immune restoration and a very small or undetectable reservoir of HIV DNA.
HIV Obstruction by Programmed Epigenetics (HOPE) Collaboratory
MHRP is also a partner with the HIV Obstruction by Programmed Epigenetics (HOPE) Collaboratory led by researchers at Gladstone Institutes, Scripps Research Florida, and Weill Cornell Medicine. HOPE aims to both silence and permanently remove HIV from the body by targeting latent HIV in new ways.
MHRP’s international research network and our cohort studies will help support these research efforts on multiple fronts. MHRP’s African Cohort Study (AFRICOS) will inform research efforts by providing data and samples of ART-suppressed individuals. AFRICOS is a large, long-term cohort study taking place at MHRP partner sites in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Our partners in Uganda—the Makerere University Walter Reed Project—are also supporting the Collaboratory by providing samples and assisting in clinical studies. Samples from these cohort studies will be used with three classes of candidate “block and lock” agents to help better understand the reservoir by determining the cell-intrinsic features of reservoir cells.
In Thailand, the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) will conduct preclinical studies on the pharmacokinetic properties, oral bioavailability and toxicity of the most promising block and lock candidates. The AFRIMS team, which includes researchers from the Department of Retrovirology and the Department of Veterinary Medicine, will also conduct a small pilot study evaluating the impact these candidates have on inhibiting viral transcription.
For more information on the HOPE Collaboratory, visit: https://gladstone.org/news/new-approach-curing-hiv
For information on the Martin Delaney Collaboratories for HIV Cure Research, visit: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/nih-makes-substantial-new-investment-hiv-cure-research