GW Receives Martin Delaney Grant for HIV Cure Research

By Kristen Mitchell

George Washington University researchers have received a five-year Martin Delaney Collaboratory grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop new strategies to cure HIV, with first-year funding totaling $5.7 million and similar funds planned for each of the subsequent years.

The team will apply immunotherapy advances that focus on improving and reprogramming a patient’s immune system, such as have recently been applied to fight cancer, and apply these new techniques to boost current “kick and kill” HIV cure strategies. The “kick and kill” method wakes up a latent virus and destroys it. By combining these methods, researchers will try to reduce or eliminate the body’s reservoirs of the HIV virus. By destroying the reservoir, a person would be effectively cured of HIV.

The grant is part of the second iteration of the NIH’s Martin Delaney Collaboratory program, which fosters public and private partnerships to accelerate HIV/AIDS cure research. Mr. Delaney was a well-known AIDS activist before his death in 2009. GW will work with 17 partners, labs and institutions on this research.

“We are happy and humbled to have been selected as one of the recipients of this important award,” said Douglas Nixon, principal investigator and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine in the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We have gathered together a diverse group of researchers, who are all driven by the belief that a cure will depend on enhancing natural anti-HIV immunity and that finding a cure must be accomplished in a fully participatory stakeholder fashion.”

The project is named “Bench to Bed Enhanced Lymphocyte Infusions to Engineer Viral Eradication (BELIEVE).” BELIEVE’s initial research goals are:

  • Enhancing the killing ability of HIV-specific killer T-cells
  • Augmenting natural killer cell functions
  • Harnessing T-cell, natural killer cell and antibody-mediated effectors in both adult and pediatric HIV infections

Read the full announcement at GW Today.

BELIEVE Collaboratory Belfer Research Building, 413 E. 69th St., 5 FL New York, NY 10021 Phone: (646) 962-2478