HIV Latency Reversing Agents
The biggest hurdle in curing HIV infection in an individual is that the virus remains dormant in some populations of cells, hiding from the immune system and the cocktail of antiviral drugs. This is described as HIV latency and poses a major barrier to curing HIV. The Lewin-Cameron Lab’s research focuses on agents that ‘wake up’ dormant HIV hiding in the body and reverse HIV latency. One group of drugs they strongly focus on is histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi).
Dendritic cells and immunomodulation in HIV
Dendritic cell-T cell interactions in different tissues are critical in generating T cell immunity and this interaction is important in controlling productive HIV infection and latency in the T cells. The Lewin-Cameron Lab are exploring how different types of dendritic cells can control the establishment, reversal and maintenance of HIV latency. One major interest of this group is the role of immune check points and their blockade in DC-induced HIV latency.
HIV Reservoir Virology
The HIV Reservoir Virology group’s major focus is on unravelling the viral determinants of HIV latency. They use innovative virological techniques to understand how the virus can persist on ART using CD4+ T-cells from HIV-infected individuals on ART. The reservoir virology group also has a major interest in developing assays to better quantify HIV persistence on antiretroviral therapy.
HIV and co-infections
Co-infections with viral or bacterial pathogens cause significant morbidity in patients with HIV. In the case of HIV/HBV co-infection, morbidity and mortality secondary to liver disease is greatly increased compared to those infected with HBV or HIV alone. Mortality remains elevated even after treating both the HIV and HBV virus. The HBV Immunology Lab investigates the mechanism of how HIV can accelerate liver disease in patients co-infected with HBV. They hypothesise that this occurs by combined effects of HIV and HBV on inflammation in the liver. These studies could potentially lead to new treatments for liver disease. In addition they have a long-standing interest in developing novel assays to characterise the immune response to other important HIV co-infections, including cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Cryptococcus.
Associate Professor Paul Cameron received his Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) and Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery degrees from the University of Western Australia, trained in clinical immunology and immunopathology and was awarded a PhD in 1991 for research on molecular immunology and immunogenetics. Paul was a postdoctoral in cellular immunology with Nobel Laureate Ralph Steinman at Rockefeller University in New York between 1990-1992 and was a Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute and University of Melbourne between 1993-2002. Since 2005, Paul has worked as a clinician researcher with Professor Sharon Lewin in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Monash University and from 2014 at the Doherty Institute.