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The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Funding
Date:11/7/2011

tential of drugs called synthetic BET (bromodomain extra terminal) family protein antagonists to control HIV infection and latency. Current HIV drugs reduce the disease-causing virus to undetectable levels, but the virus goes into a dormant state called latency, from which it can make a resurgence if a patient stops taking medication. Previous studies by Dr. Finkel and other scientists have suggested that BET antagonists may flush HIV out of its hiding places where it can be destroyed by other antiretroviral drugs.

Dr. Finkel's chief collaborator in this project is Gerd A. Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., holder of the Frank E. Weise III Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who has focused on the biological activities of BET family proteins. In the first part of the project, Drs. Finkel and Blobel will investigate the effectiveness of BET antagonists against HIV in cell cultures. If these results are encouraging, the project will progress to clinical trials in patients with HIV. Because this class of drugs will soon be tested in humans as treatments for other diseases, appropriate BET antagonists are expected to be freely available for HIV clinical trials.

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from over 40 countries. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short, two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have an opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million.

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