Dear generationCURE Supporter,
My name is Brad Jones and I received generationCURE’s inaugural grant in 2015. This funding has been critical to my research, which aims to develop a cure for HIV infection. With the annual generationCURE Solstice event fast approaching, I thought I would take a moment to update you on the advances that we have made over the past year as a direct result of your generous support.
First, it is important to note that the greatest obstacle to curing HIV infection is the ability of this virus to hide in so-called reservoirs for years, and then to re-emerge if an individual stops taking antiretroviral medication. We are working to develop ways to eradicate this hidden virus using a two-step approach: first, using one or more drugs (known as latency-reversing agents) to force the virus out of hiding, then harnessing the power of a type of immune cell—called a killer T-cell—to eliminate these exposed targets.
Click here for information and tickets to generationCURE: Solstice, Tuesday, June 21st.
The research funded by generationCURE is aimed squarely at testing ways of forcing HIV-infected cells out of hiding so that they can be detected and eliminated by killer T-cells. This past April, we published results in the journal PLoS Pathogens, showing that some of the latency-reversing drugs we tested were effective at exposing HIV to killer T-cells. However, we found that some of the drugs, which are currently in clinical trials, did awaken HIV but not enough for the killer T-cells to eliminate the reservoir. Thus, this generationCURE-funded study may provide a partial explanation for the reasons the clinical trials have failed and points to clear opportunities to improve the success of future clinical trials.
With your support, we have been pushing ahead with test-tube experiments aimed at evaluating various combinations of effective latency-reversing agents and killer T-cells to see whether they can eradicate hidden HIV from the blood of people living with HIV. While these studies are still ongoing, the data so far suggests that we are on the right track. Some of these combinations have been shown to substantially reduce reservoirs of HIV—but something more may be needed to completely eradicate the virus. We are committed to continuing this important work so that the effective strategies revealed through these studies can be translated into clinical trials and beyond, offering hope to people living with HIV.
It has been an exciting year and I am very encouraged by the progress that we have made together. Thank you once again for your support through this wonderfully unique and innovative generationCURE initiative. I’m very proud to be a part of this movement.
And, if you haven’t done so already, click here to buy your tickets to Solstice on Tuesday, June 21st.
R. Brad Jones
The George Washington University