Scientific Research Supports
SRS1 – Clinical Scientific Research Support Group
A successful “functional” cure is envisioned as one that would reduce viremia to undetectable levels, sustain CD4 counts, halt disease progression and prevent transmission of HIV, all in the absence of ART. Our group of clinician-scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia FIGHT has successfully tested, in patients living with HIV, some of the most promising approaches for a functional cure of HIV infection. The overarching goal of this BEAT-HIV Collaboratory is to conduct the first clinical trials that combine several of the approaches that we have successfully tested individually.
SRS2 – Viral Measures
The HIV Measures Scientific Research Support (SRS) Group consists of three laboratories: University of California San Diego/Veterans Medical Research Foundation San Diego, University of Nebraska, and Merck, Inc. that work closely together to optimize specimen and data sharing. These labs have been applying their current state-of-the-art assays to the clinical trial specimens from Dr. Montaner and his colleagues and will continue to do so as service activities, which will be supporting primarily the clinical trial protocols proposed in the BEAT-HIV Collaboratory. The HIV Measures SRS group goals are to provide state-or-the-art assays to measure the impact of the innovative candidate cure interventions of our BEAT collaborators and to develop new and improved assays to better address the challenging problem of measuring the latent reservoir and reductions resulting from innovative treatments.
SRS3 – HIV Resistance
This Scientific Research Support (SRS) group from the University of Pennsylvania has established methods to (i) identify, enumerate and clone rebound viruses without introducing PCR artifacts, (ii) test viral sensitivities to type 1 IFNs and broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), and (iii) evaluate the emergence of viral resistance in response to immune pressures. Using these methods, we will support this Collaboratory by dissecting the pathways of viral diversification and of immune escape, in patients and humanized (hu) mice, following treatment with IFN a2b, bNAbs (VRC01, 10-1074) and CCR5 disrupted CD4-CAR T cells. By characterizing the mechanisms underlying viral persistence in the context of treatment intervention and clinical outcomes, we expect to identify new viral vulnerabilities that can be exploited to design more effective therapies.
SRS4 – Biostatistics and Data Management
The Biostatistics and Data Management Scientific Research Support group (BDMSRS) from the University of Pennsylvania and the Wistar Institute will ensure maximal impact of the proposed research projects by working with investigators to assure the planned research is conducted with efficient study designs, analyzed by innovative and appropriate statistical methods and that study data are of high quality and managed in manner that allows for easy exchange of information between projects. Members of the BDMSRS will collaborate with investigators in the Initial Research Focus (IRF) groups to develop statistically optimal study designs for the laboratory, animal and clinical research studies to be undertaken, to plan and implement appropriate analytical strategies for study results, and to create and manage study databases.