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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 38
New amfAR grants announced
Section One
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New amfAR grants announced

Research consortium hopes to accelerate the search for an AIDS cure

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) announced three new research grants on September 14. The grants are part of amfAR's two-year-old Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE).

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, will receive $312,070 to study the ability of the alcoholism drug disulfiram to induce dormant HIV out of latency so that the virus is susceptible to anti-retroviral therapy.

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston will get $105,160 to study the possible HIV cure suggested by the so-called 'Berlin patient,' who apparently became HIV-negative after a stem cell transplant.

Johns Hopkins University researchers will get $383,155 to investigate the effects of anti-retroviral therapy on children born HIV-positive, and how their success rate might differ from that of HIV patients who become infected as adults.

Kevin Robert Frost, amfAR's CEO, noted that the new round of grants came after the International AIDS Conference emphasized the importance of new research aimed at finding a cure.

'There was a lot of discussion at July's International AIDS Conference about the importance of collaboration among researchers in the search for a cure for HIV/AIDS, and amfAR is proud to be one of the leading organizations funding this kind of important work,' Frost said.

'It's gratifying to know that the work we're funding through ARCHE is both building on and contributing to our collective knowledge of how we might cure HIV, and that scientists working in different fields are coming up with creative ways to work together and make real progress.'

AmfAR was founded in 1985 when the New York-based AIDS Medical Foundation merged with the National AIDS Research Foundation, based in Los Angeles. The ARCHE consortium was created in 2010 to help fund research into promising HIV-cure projects.

THREE MAIN GOALS
According to amfAR's website, ARCHE focuses on 'three areas that are widely considered central to HIV eradication: the search for a sterilizing cure that would eliminate all HIV from the body; the search for a functional cure that would achieve permanent viral suppression without therapy; and the characterization of viral reservoirs, the barrier that must be overcome to achieve a cure.'

In announcing the latest round of grants, amfAR also took credit for ARCHE's success in stimulating research over the past two years.

'In just two years, ARCHE has not only shaken up the AIDS research world by contributing vital findings to the field, but it has given us a deeper understanding of how and why some interventions work effectively,' amfAR Vice President and Director of Research Dr. Rowena Johnston said in a statement.

'These three new projects follow up on recent findings, which will hopefully accelerate the search for a cure that can be applied widely and safely for the 34 million people who need one.'

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