The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: New drugs to reactivate latent HIV

Purcell Group

Current latency-reversing drugs lack specificity for the latent HIV promoter, and therefore demonstrate reduced safety and potency. We developed a dual-reporter screening cell-line that specifically reactivates HIV-1 gene expression by promoting the HIV RNA-processing and protein-modification pathways that support Tat-activated HIV-1 expression. After screening a 115,000-compound library, we identified and patented a family of Amidothiazol compounds that reactivate latent HIV from primary patient cells as single agents and strongly synergise with the BRD4 inhibitor, JQ1(+). This project will examine the cellular targets of the Amidothiazols and will characterise the novel mechanisms these compounds use to strongly reactivate HIV from latency. 

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Damian Purcell

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Youry Kim

Project availability
Master of Biomedical Science

Purcell Group

5 vacancies

Viral Infectious Diseases
Host Pathogens Interactions
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Global Health
Indigenous Health
Translational and Clinical Research

Professor Damian Purcell’s group investigates the HIV-1 and HTLV-1 human retroviruses that cause AIDS, leukaemia and inflammatory pathogenesis respectively. We study their genetic structure and gene expression with a focus on defining the mechanisms that control viral persistence and pathogenesis. We examine the molecular interplay of viral and host factors during viral infection and the innate and adaptive immune responses to viral infection. We use these molecular insights to develop new antiviral and curative therapeutics, preventive prophylactic vaccines and passive antibody microbicides and therapeutics. Some of these patented discoveries have been commercialised and we are assisting with clinical trials.

Purcell Group Current Projects