NIH funds new Study

2 February 2015

A grant to fund a study on “Integrin a4b7 as a predictor of HIV acquisition and pathogenesis.” was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Dr Lyle Mckinnon (PI) who is a Research Scientist at CAPRISA and Professor Aftab Ansari (co-PI) from Emory in Atlanta, USA. Other collaborators include Dr Jim Arthos from the NIH and Professor Lynn Morris from National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

     The grant a total of $333,288 over a two year period will fund Mckinnon and Ansari’s work will test the hypotheses that the integrin α4β7 facilitates HIV transmission by serving as an enhancer of mucosal attachment for the virus shortly after HIV exposure, allowing the virus efficient transit to the gut.

     Dr Mckinnon explains: “Several lines of evidence including in vitro and non-human primate studies suggest that blockade of integrin α4β7, a key gut homing and HIV-binding molecule, could show promise as an HIV prevention modality.”
He said that the proposed cohort study of CAPRISA004 and 008 samples aims to build on this by providing a critical link between in vitro and animal model data. “This cohort provides a rare combination of prospective follow-up and sampling of high-risk women, some of whom acquire HIV, at key pre- and post-infection time points. Since α4β7-blocking antibodies are already FDA-approved for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, mounting evidence suggests that α4β7 might represent a useful target to test in clinical trials to prevent HIV infection.”