Areas of Investigation
Virology and immunology research at Gladstone focuses primarily on three urgent challenges in HIV/AIDS. We desperately need a vaccine for those at risk of coming in contact with the virus, as well as a cure for the millions of people who are already infected. Finally, we need new approaches to restoring a normal lifespan to those who are HIV-positive, and dying much too early from diseases of aging.
In the area of prevention, we are continuing the work started by our groundbreaking iPrEx study, which showed how a daily pill can prevent HIV infection in people likely to come in contact with it. We’re now working on the iPrEx Open-Label Extension Study (iPrEx OLE), which will enroll approximately 2,000 men and transgender women in a 72-week clinical trial.
Our scientists also continue to investigate the mechanisms by which HIV integrates and replicates within human hosts, while evading the host immune system. We’ve launched studies to determine whether chronic, low-level inflammation associated with the disease—or the drugs themselves—are the major factors driving “accelerated aging” in HIV/AIDS.
As part of our work to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, we are investigating HIV latency as a member of the Martin Delaney Collaboratory—a consortium of academia, government and private industry. Latency occurs when HIV goes dormant and “hides” within cells, waiting for an opportunity to reemerge when antiretroviral medications are stopped. By better understanding latency, and developing new ways to attack it, we could finally cure HIV-infected patients.
In addition to HIV/AIDS, we’re working on a variety of other areas: Gladstone scientists are looking for new biological targets for drugs that will attack the hepatitis C virus—which has infected 170 million people worldwide. Hepatitis C is a common co-infection with HIV/AIDS. We are also investigating the molecular structure of viruses associated with cancer—and how to remove them from the body as a way to reduce the risk of cancer. And we are investigating why newborns and infants mount less effective immune responses to viruses than adults do.