Virology and Immunology
HIV/AIDS has ranked among the deadliest infectious epidemics ever recorded since it was first identified in the early 1980s. It has infected more than 60 million people around the world and killed 34 million. Today’s antiretroviral drugs can help people with HIV/AIDS survive the disease, but patients require lifelong treatment of daily medications for the virus that persists in a dormant, drug-insensitive form.
However, there is still no cure.
Gladstone has been working to fight this devastating disease for more than 20 years. In that time, we have fundamentally changed the understanding of HIV infection.
Understanding the HIV Lifecycle. We helped to define the lifecycle of HIV and pave the way for many of the medications currently in use. For example, we are studying how HIV “hides” in a small number of cells that can restart the infection when treatment is stopped.
Preventing New Infections. We also led the global and groundbreaking iPrEx study, showing how a daily pill can prevent HIV infection in people likely to come in contact with the virus. We recently discovered and characterized proteins in semen that enhance HIV’s ability to infect the immune system—a discovery that one day could help curb the global spread of this deadly pathogen.
Curing HIV Infection. We recently solved the decades-old mystery of how HIV destroys cells, defined the functions of several HIV proteins and helped define the HIV lifecycle. These findings are spurring innovative strategies for preventing, treating and—ultimately—curing HIV/AIDS.
Contributing to Other Areas. Our research also encompasses other areas of human health, highlighting our strategy to give scientists the freedom to follow their research wherever it leads. Gladstone virologists discovered, for example, the critical impact several enzymes called sirtuins have on aging, cancer and diabetes. These discoveries not only enhance our fundamental understanding of these conditions, but also point to potential therapeutic strategies for treating them. Our research on sirtuins is also informing our ongoing investigation into the phenomenon of accelerated aging among people with HIV/AIDS.
To be sure, our work on this disease is by no means done. For these individuals, and all those who may be exposed to the virus, there is no time to lose.