Texas Biomed gains grant to develop cure for HIV-born babies

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) recently gained a $5 million National Institutes of Health grant to fund the organization’s research for potential functional cures for babies who are born with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections.

The researchers will evaluate a variety of potential cures, including investigative AIDS vaccines as well as antiviral drugs. The goal is to successfully cure both infants and children who have HIV infections.

“Our goal is to determine whether these candidate vaccines, partnered with antiviral drugs, will not only completely suppress HIV replication in babies infected with HIV at birth, but will also induce such strong antiviral cellular immune defenses that the virus will not reemerge after all treatment is stopped,” Ruth Ruprecht, scientist and director of the AIDS Research Program at TBRI and leader of the study, said. “We will test our concepts in infant and neonatal rhesus monkeys. These primate models will allow us to assess whether the virus can be cleared from tissue reservoirs and whether long-lasting protective immunity has been generated by the combined treatment.”

The TBRI will partner with UCLA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the University of Pennsylvania over the next four years.

World Health Organization statistics show that in 2014, approximately 37 million people around the world lived with AIDS infections. Approximately 2.6 million of these were children, with 220,000 children contracting the illness that year.

Organizations in this Story

National Institutes of Health Texas Biomedical Research Institute

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