Fighting HIV through a better delivery method of anti-retrovirals

(Boston) — Rahm Gummuluru, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and Bjoern Reinhard, PhD, professor of chemistry at Boston University, have been awarded a Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institute of Health. The R01 is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism used to provide support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the National Institutes of Health.

The five-year $2.7 million grant will be used to study ways in which anti-retrovirals that target the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be delivered directly to lymphatic tissues.

Secondary lymphatic tissues control the quality of immune responses and are the predominant sites of HIV-1 replication. Virus replication takes place in secondary lymphoid tissues in HIV-infected individuals, even among those patients taking anti-retroviral therapy, primarily because of poor drug penetration in these tissue sites, especially when drugs are taken orally.

The researchers plan to develop novel formulations of membrane-wrapped nanoparticles that encapsulate anti-retrovirals to selectively transport and target anti-retrovirals to virus-infected cells in secondary lymphoid tissues.

"There is an urgent need to develop new sustained release formulations that improve lymphoid tissue targeting and retention to eradicate virus reservoirs," explained Gummuluru, lead principal investigator on the grant.

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The other sites involved in this research are the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID's mission is to conduct basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.

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