Updates from the Lab: CROI Takeaways & Our New Apheresis Machines

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March 31 2014

Apheresis machine
By Stefanie Homann

A lot has happened in the two months since I wrote my last update on ARA’s cure research progress.

In early March, I flew to Boston, Massachusetts with ARA’s Medical Director, Dr. Stephen Brown, to attend the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections [CROI].

It was a productive visit. A number of sessions at CROI focused on the findings of other laboratories’ cure research. Learning what other teams are discovering in their research helps us at ARA refine our own approach to prostratin, and it helps us better understand how prostratin fits into the cure research landscape.

While at CROI, Dr. Brown and I met with a number of potential research collaborators, including one research scientist in Brazil who is working with a compound similar to prostratin called Ing-B. The researcher, Amilcar Tanuri, and I had conversations about his compound, which, like prostratin, stimulates the reservoir. Dr. Tanuri and I will maintain an ongoing dialogue about each of our research, so that we may learn from and build upon each other’s progress.

Now, back in Los Angeles, I am working with the team to set up the laboratory so that we may commence the experiments I mentioned in my earlier post – those experiments necessary to determine what concentration of prostratin is appropriate for optimal viral induction, as well as what the associated toxicity levels are.

In order to conduct these experiments ex vivo, in cells taken from a patient, we have set up our laboratory so that we can conduct leukapheresis here at ARA. We have purchased two apheresis machines. These are the machines that extract the white blood cells from the patient`s blood so that we can isolate the resting CD4 T cells. CD4 T cells harbor the viral reservoir, on which I will perform the necessary prostratin experiments.

If you would like to support the work that I am doing here at ARA, and help us advance closer to a cure for HIV, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to AIDS Research Alliance. And please share this post with anyone you know who has been touched by this issue - or who may be interested in the research for a cure. We are making progress every day, and we hope you will join us in this journey.

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