HIV: CanCURE project receives $ 6 million grant

The Canadian Research Consortium for HIV Healing (CanCURE) has been awarded a $ 6 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, La Presse canadienne premiered.
This financial support will allow CanCURE to continue its activities until 2024. The Consortium brings together 19 collaborators, half of whom are based in Quebec, and aims to counter the main obstacles to the cure of HIV by taking advantage of the synergy between researchers and researchers. laboratory and clinic, as well as the communities of people living with HIV.

“We have to understand that we started from nothing (five years ago),” said the project director, Dr. Eric Cohen. It was really about developing the clinical infrastructure that would be needed if tomorrow morning there was something that worked (…) (for) the clinical follow-up of these healing experiments. ”

Dr. Cohen is the Director of the Human Retrovirology Research Unit at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal.

CanCURE’s work aims to find new approaches that would allow HIV remission in infected people without the need for antiretroviral therapy.

The researchers want to understand how, despite this therapy, HIV manages to remain in a silent form within certain cells, called “reservoirs”.

The first part of the program has already enabled researchers to develop methodologies for identifying and measuring HIV reservoirs more accurately. They have also developed approaches to eliminate or control these reservoirs.

Phase 2.0 of the project will include the mapping of HIV reservoirs in the human body.

“We first want to understand where all these reservoirs are in an individual who is infected,” said Dr. Cohen. What we know today is mainly reservoirs that can be accessed, as in the blood, tissues that can be taken, but we know that the virus is found everywhere in infected individuals. One of the team’s projects is to (…) know where all these tanks are located in order to better eliminate them. ”

If we want to reduce or eliminate these reservoirs, he explains, we must be able to measure them, otherwise it will be impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention.

Researchers will also try to understand how interactions between immune cells promote the formation of certain reservoirs and thus influence the persistence and presence of the virus despite treatments. They will be interested in particular immune cells called macrophages.

Their work over the next five years will focus on three main areas: examining the possibility of making the virus visible to the immune system in the cells where it is hiding; to study special macrophages with a long lifespan and a renewal capacity where the virus is buried; and advance the approaches developed during the first phase to eventually conduct clinical studies in humans.

Some 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide, including nearly two million children under 15 years of age.

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