Local HIV service organization Philadelphia FIGHT has announced that it will participate in “the largest randomized trial anywhere” to find a cure for HIV. The project — led by West Philly biomedical research institute Wistar — is funded by a four-year, $6.2-million-dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health. The goal? To lead a clinical trial that aims to “drain the viral reservoir” of the HIV-1 virus in patients with HIV/AIDS.”
Philly FIGHT is among multiple local clinics participating in the trial, so to find out what role it will play in the study, I reached out to FIGHT's Chip Alfred. He told me that the group is tasked with enrolling subjects needed for the study — specifically ones who are currently on antiretroviral therapy. In the study, these subjects will be treated with "a form of interferon-alpha, a protein that stimulates the immune system." This is a method that, according to a pilot trial performed by Wistar’s Lab Director Luis J. Montaner in 2013, was found to "reduce the persistent amount of HIV-1 residing in people with HIV/AIDS who are currently being treated with antiretroviral therapy."
Philly FIGHT's experiments will be led by a small team of research scientists at the organization's Jonathan Lax Treatment Center, which will send blood samples to Wistar at the end of the trial. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates.