Navigation Links
Multimillion-dollar grant propels lab toward HIV cure
Date:5/9/2014

Fairfax, Va. -- A George Mason University researcher has won a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that may lead to a way for curing HIV in the next five years.

It's an especially sweet moment for Yuntao Wu, a molecular and microbiology professor, because his lab lost funding last year due to federal budget cuts. "We struggled for an entire year and finally the good news came," says Wu, who works in the School of Systems Biology and the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, both in the College of Science (COS).

But really, the good news is for people struggling with HIV, which leads to AIDS, because Wu has found a promising strategy to defeat the virus. He's borrowing an approach from the Greek poet Virgil and using a Trojan Horse to breach the fortress of HIV.

"It has the potential to offer a cure," Wu says. "We'll know in four to five years."

Wu and his lab team take an HIV-like virus, scoop out its insides and insert an HIV-destroying therapeutic. "But on the outside, it looks like an HIV virus," Wu says. "This Trojan virus then infects the HIV-harboring cell and kills itstopping it from making and spreading more viruses."

Wu's approach is almost as tricky as HIV's ability to hijack T-cells, which are the body's defense against disease. The HIV virus hides in T-cells, avoiding recognition and elimination by our immune system. Wu's strategy is to use the Trojan virus to find and infect the HIV-hiding T-cells, and then force the HIV virus to replicate. The replication of HIV will trigger the release of a therapeutic protein that will eventually lead to the death of HIV and the infected T-cells.

Wu began working on this strategy a decade ago and found success in the test tube. He's gratified that the approach may be the best way to eliminate the HIV-harboring reservoirs that are one of the most formidable obstacles for a cure to HIV infection. "This is what we've imaginedthat we could wipe out HIV and offer a cure. Drugs inhibit HIV but don't offer a cure. You have to use the medicine all the time."

But lack of funding almost derailed Wu's innovative research. Wu's lab lost funding last year when a federal grant expired and wasn't renewed by the government. His plight appeared in the April edition of Nature magazine, along with many other publications, during the past year.

"Funding is really tight right now," says Wu, adding he had to cut a technician's job last year. "My lab has been very productive, but because of the funding cut, we were in danger of closing."

A bicycle ride fundraiserthe New York City to Washington, D.C., AIDS ridehad raised some $300,000 from 2008 to 2010. The ride organizer, Marty Rosen, used crowdfunding and raised $20,000 for Wu's lab last summer. George Mason students, staff and researchers gave money as well. "That really helped us to purchase the essentials to keep the lab running," Wu says. A small grant from China-based pharmaceutical firm F. Hoffmann-La Roche helped too.

Still these efforts weren't enough to keep a major lab going for long. "I know some colleagues who closed their labs and left science because they couldn't get funding," Wu says. Federal funding used to fund about 30 percent of NIH grant applications, but now has dropped to fund about eight to 10 percent, he says, adding he applied for 14 grants in five months and too many to track for the entire year.

And then the $3.3 million NIH grant came through late last month. "All together, all these efforts really kept us alive until this grant was approved. We are all set for the next five years."

Mason students are working and learning in Wu's lab. "All of the test-tube work has been done by my students," Wu says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Michele McDonald
mmcdon15@gmu.edu
703-993-8781
George Mason University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Champion Medical Technologies Announces Multimillion-Dollar Round of Funding
2. Researchers granted funding to explore novel lung cancer strategies
3. Scientists awarded grant to develop diagnostics for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis
4. Georgia State researcher gets $2.83 million grant to develop drugs for RSV infection
5. LSUHSC awarded NSF grant for summer research experience for underrepresented undergrads
6. Pregnancy complications may be more common in immigrants from certain regions
7. LSDF announces commercialization grants and Entrepreneur Mentoring Program
8. $8 million NIH grant will fund multicenter clinical trial of stroke intervention drug
9. Kessler Foundation scientists receive Biogen Idec grant to study actual reality in MS
10. $2.5 million Defense Department grant funds gene therapy study for Lou Gehrigs disease
11. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation awards $4 million in NARSAD Grants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van ... Wellness at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite ... 7th annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have experienced ... feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a ... has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Texas (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... International Conference and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant ... of the grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA is excited to announce ... program to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer treatments. Comfort Keepers ... of life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from medical treatments is one ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... the Clinical Decision Making in Emergency Medicine conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. ... articles published in Emergency Medicine Practice and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Practice. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Bracket , a leading ... next generation clinical outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, ... June 26 – 30, 2016 in Philadelphia ... Clinical Outcome Assessment product of its kind to fully integrate ... Bracket eCOA 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia (AFC), a new affiliate with operations headquartered in Bogota. Colombia ... ... Sandra ... ... Astellas is a pharmaceutical company ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The vast majority of dialysis patients currently receive ... usually 3 times a week, with treatment times averaging ... equipment preparation and wait time.  This regimen can be ... who are elderly and frail.  Many elderly dialysis patients ... for some duration of time. Residents in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: