Oral Drug Treatment for Enhanced Immune Control over HIV Replication

Sponsor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Location(s): United States


Hartigan-O’Connor is studying whether an oral drug can alter the composition of the immune system in the gut – a critical site of viral infection -- and render it capable of better controlling viruses like HIV.

“It has become increasingly clear that intestinal tissue is an important site of HIV replication and damage to the immune system,” he said. ”We aim to protect people against the effects of HIV by expanding a specific kind of disease-fighting immune T cell, the Th17 cell, which is central to defense of the intestine.” 

“This approach is unconventional because it aims to alter the cellular composition of the immune system rather than create an immune response that is specific to a harmful antigen,” said Hartigan-O’Connor.

“The pilot grant was critical in developing the concept of how HIV disease develops in the gut and in exploring the use of oral drugs in that tissue,”