The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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

30 Jan 2018

New grants further work in HIV and Hep B

The Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research (ACH2) is one of Australia’s four national centres for HIV research - over the past 14 years, the ACH2 has supported vital translational research in these areas. 

This year, the Doherty Institute's were the proud recipients of two grants.

Putting the Kill in “Shock and Kill” to Eliminate Latent HIV, Dr Jenny Anderson

In HIV-infected individuals on antiretroviral drug therapy, the virus lingers in long lived, immune T cells harbouring a sleeping “latent” form of the virus. As the virus is sleeping, these infected cells are not seen by our immune system to remove them. This prevents individuals being cured of the virus.

This project will test combinations of drugs to:

  1. Wake up the sleeping virus with drugs called “latency reversing agents”
  2. Induce these cells to then self-destruct and die by a process called apoptosis using drugs that promote apoptosis. 

We aim to identify drug combinations that, in future, could be advanced to testing in a clinical trial to remove these hidden HIV infected cells in patients and try to achieve remission or a cure. 

A new assay and cell culture system to progress pan-genotypic HBV cure research, Dr Margaret Littlejohn and A/Professor Peter Revill

Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a serious life-long disease that requires long-term clinical management of patients. Current treatment can reduce the progression of liver disease by stopping the virus from replicating, however, treatment is lifelong.

One of the reasons for this is a particular form of the virus that hides in the liver cells and is not affected by current treatments. This project aims to develop a sensitive new assay to detect and measure this virus marker, with the recent discovery of the molecule that the HBV uses to enter the cell now allowing us to study HBV infection and replication in the laboratory.

We then aim to use the novel CRISPR technology to potentially target the form of HBV hidden in the liver and destroy it. In combination, the techniques outlined here can be used to measure the amount of the hidden HBV form in the liver, and potentially lead to new drug treatments for HBV that target this form of the virus, ultimately leading to cure.

 

Dr Anderson was awarded $88,000 and Dr Littlejohn and A/Professor Revill were awarded $85,000.

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