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Cutting-edge amfAR grants fight HIV/AIDS in the lab and on the phone
Date:2/27/2009

NEW YORK, February 27, 2009 Most parents of teenage children have experienced frustration at their sons' and daughters' obsession with text messaging. But what if this ubiquitous technology could be used to save lives? At the University of Dar es Salaam in the East African nation of Tanzania, a country where few have landlines but most own a cell phone, that is precisely what Dr. Joyce Nyoni is trying to do.

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, today announced that it will fund three projects, including the work of Dr. Nyoni, that are harnessing social networking technologies to prevent the spread of HIV infection. Dr. Nyoni will recruit a small number of men who have sex with men (MSM), who in turn will recruit other MSM, to receive and send regular text messages containing HIV/AIDS information. At the end of her study, Dr. Nyoni will assess the changes in knowledge and behavior that she hopes will result from the program.

In addition to searching for novel ways to prevent HIV infection, at the other end of the research spectrum amfAR announced the award of six new grants for innovative biomedical research studies aimed at advancing the treatment and cure of HIV/AIDS.

On the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, it is fitting perhaps that one of the grantees will use our deepening understanding of evolution to identify new targets for anti-HIV drugs. Dr. Sara Sawyer of the University of Texas at Austin will base her study on the Red Queen hypothesis, which suggests that organisms must continue to evolve just to keep up with the other organisms that surround them. Arguing that mutations in cell proteins that compromise HIV's ability to grow will be favored over time, Dr. Sawyer hopes to identify those that show the greatest promise as drug targets.

A third group of awards is allocated specifically to younger scientists who often have the greatest difficulty finding support for their work but who represent t
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Contact: Jennifer Samuels
jennifer.samuels@amfar.org
212-806-1756
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Source:Eurekalert

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