Researchers at the UCLA Center for AIDS Research received $7.7 million to search for a long-term treatment for HIV and AIDS patients.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases donated a five-year grant to fund three projects under the Center for AIDS Research to prevent the HIV from re-emerging and multiplying after a patient stops taking medicine. The projects will investigate the factors causing and possible ways to combat the HIV’s ability to rebound without antiretroviral therapy, according to a press release.
HIV patients must currently receive antiretroviral therapy throughout their lives because the virus is able to hide in certain cells and then rebound if a patient discontinues therapy. A vaccination or genetic modification that strengthens the immune system to fight against this rebound could allow patients to eventually stop taking antiretroviral medication.
Antiretroviral therapy costs make up the majority of health costs for patients with HIV, which can range from roughly $11,000 to $22,000 per year, according to a study published in the official International AIDS Society journal.
The researchers plan to come up with a solution by observing the effect of HIV on mice. Although HIV does not naturally infect mice, the researchers transplant components of the human immune system into the mice, which allows them to be a model for the human immune response to HIV.
These projects follow a report researchers in the center published in October detailing a way to reactivate and spread the dormant HIV hiding in cells in order for the immune system or the virus itself to destroy the infected cells.