"The primary goal of the Elite Controller Collaborative Study is to identify the mechanism that explains control of viral replication in both of these groups, " says Florencia Pereyra, MD, of PARC, lead coordinator of the research team. "We want to use that knowledge to develop a first-generation HIV vaccine, which may not cure or prevent infection but could successfully suppress viral levels. Since this natural ability is so rare, we need to work with collaborators around the world to recruit the number of participants we will need to determine what is going on.
"We expect to need data from at least 1,000 such individuals in order to define the genetic factors associated with this extraordinary outcome," she adds. "This effort will only be possible with the collaboration of HIV researchers, providers, advocacy groups and most important the HIV-infected individuals that fall in this category."
Those eligible to participate in the Elite Controller Collaborative Study are HIV-positive adults, aged 18 to 75, who have maintained viral loads below 2,000 copies without taking HIV antiviral medications. Participation involves having a single blood sample taken, which can be done by participants' local healthcare providers. Those located near a participating research center may choose to be followed over time and provide additional blood samples.
"So far we have enrolled nearly 200 participants from 25 U.S. states, and we are looking forward to adding participants from other countries," says Pereyra. Potential participants or collaborating providers seeking more information should contact Rachel Rosenberg, Partners AIDS Research Center, (617) 726-5536 or email@example.com.