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Research projects will test strategies for drug-using HIV patients

February 13, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Five researchers will lead a diverse grouping of studies exploring HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment strategies for drug-using individuals, under the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA's) 2015 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research program.

“Despite the success of combined antiretroviral therapies in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, HIV remains a chronic disease with a host of debilitating side effects that are exacerbated in those suffering from substance use disorders,” NIDA director Nora D. Volkow, MD, said in a Feb. 9 news release.

Here is a summary of the projects, each receiving $500,000 a year for five years:

  • Don C. Des Jarlais, PhD., of Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, will focus on combining effective interventions to prevent the progression to injection drug use, with efforts centered in New York City and Estonia in Eastern Europe.

  • Eli Gilboa, PhD, of the University of Miami School of Medicine, will explore development of novel drugs to restore T cell function, which is particularly significant in drug users whose immune response is further compromised by their use.

  • Nichole Klatt, PhD, of the University of Washington, will look at whether non-psychoactive cannabinoids can reduce inflammation that is common in HIV patients.

  • Alan D. Levine, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University, will investigate the loss of intestinal barrier protection that is initiated with HIV infection and is exacerbated in patients with substance use problems.

  • Tariq M. Rana, PhD, of the University of California San Diego, will seek to expand the understanding of the mechanisms of brain disorders caused by HIV and its interaction with effects of methamphetamine use.