NEW YORK -- amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, will grant almost $1.2 million for 10 new research projects aimed at increasing understanding of the social and biological factors that influence the treatment of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Rowena Johnston, amfARs vice president of research, announced today.
Among those projects is a study exploring the potential benefits of maraviroc, a new antiretroviral drug expected to be approved by the FDA soon. Maraviroc works by blocking the cell surface protein CCR5 and thus preventing the virus from entering cells. amfAR funded research 10 years ago that played a leading role in spurring the development of maraviroc.
The drug also has the potential to prevent disease progression by reducing the activation state of the immune system, said Dr. Nancy Shulman of Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, who received the grant.
Immune activation has been implicated in promoting HIV disease, she said. If maraviroc can decrease HIV disease both by blocking HIV entry into cells as well as decreasing immune activation, this could have implications for broadening the use of maraviroc even in patients who might otherwise seem to be unsuitable candidates for the drug.
amfAR will also fund several projects related to the social factors contributing to HIV infection, including one that examines how stigma associated with HIV affects the level of care that patients receive.
Although progress has been made over the past 25 years in protecting the rights of people with AIDS, the stigma associated with being HIV positive can still contribute to lower quality health care in those with HIV infection, Dr Johnston said. New research funded by amfAR and being conducted by Dr. Jennifer Sayles of the University of California, Los Angeles aims to identify factors that contribute to HIV-related stigma in women, with the long-term goal of improving the quality of their health care.<