DefeatHIV, an initiative based out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, has been researching potential cures for HIV over the past 5 years. Their research has focused on the use of blood cells genetically modified to be resistant to the HIV virus. It was recently announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the DefeatHIV team a new grant of $23.5 million that will continue to support their research on this potential cure for an additional 5 years.
With the new grant, the DefeatHIV team will focus on three key research areas which all involve studying the immune system and its potential to control, or eradicate, HIV. Seattle researchers will be collaborating with teams in Florida and Washington as part of the DefeatHIV research. (Image of the FHCRC courtesy of Ciar via Wikimedia Commons)
Dr. Keith-Jerome, a virologist in Seattle and co-director of DefeatHIV said that: “We’re excited and honored to be able to continue DefeatHIV’s work and keep Fred Hutch at the center of HIV cure research, particularly in the area of cell and gene therapy."
The three new approaches to curing HIV that the team will be focusing on are:
- Using engineered HIV-resistant and anti-HIV T cells to target cells that carry HIV as a potential cure. This research area will take an approach that has been used to fight cancer, and transfer its method to combating HIV. Cancer researchers have been able to genetically modify T cells of patients by using chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), synthetic receptors, to kill certain cancer cells that contain a specific marker. The DefeatHIV team will study the possibility of engineering CARs that will be able to target markers found in cells that have HIV.
- Using a genetically engineered synthetic antibody to to fight HIV. Researchers working on this approach will be led by Dr. Michael Farzan from the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL. Dr. Farzan created a molecule in 2015 that proved to be more powerful at fighting HIV than any naturally made antibody in humans. The team working with DefeatHIV will continue to study this engineered antibody and its potential to treat HIV.
- Using a therapeutic vaccine to increase the immune system's response to HIV-resistant cells, like genetically modifies T cells. This portion of the research will be led by Dr. Jim Mullins from the University of Washington.
Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, co-director of DefeatHIV in Seattle explained that: “We’ve learned that the immune response — the patient’s immune system — plays a critical role in controlling HIV, just like in cancer. It’s set the stage for the next generation of studies to further mobilize and harness the immune system to fight HIV.”
(Images courtesy of Biotechnology Calendar, Inc.)
The Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center receives millions of dollars annually from private and public institutions and donors. In the 2015 fiscal year, the university received more than $232.6 million in life science funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding given to the university is used to establish new research buildings and support vital life science research being undertaken at the institution. Learn more about the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:
- The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is the only comprehensive cancer center in the Oregon and Washington area.
- Fred Hutchinson has an annual research budget close to $400 million.
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center receives more funding from the National Cancer Institute than any other research institution.
With so much funding from the NIH and other sources, researchers at Fred Hutch have the means to purchase many new lab products that will assist their research projects. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. produces an annual BioResearch Product Faire™ event in Seattle that is a premiere opportunity for laboratory suppliers to market to life science researchers, and allows the researchers to find the best products and technologies for their work.
The 10th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event in Seattle, WA will be held on August 31, 2016 and is expected to attract over 100 life scientists. Last year, 129 attendees came from 6 different research buildings and 14 on-campus departments.
To learn more about exhibiting at this popular event, visit the link below:
Researchers at Fred Hutch looking to find the best and newest tools available to use in their labs are invited to attend this free event. Visit the link below to learn more about the event, as well as to pre-register to save time at the door: