Clinical Scientist (Rheumatology)
Antiretroviral therapy in early HIV-1 infection, HIV-1 functional cure and eradication, Prophylactic HIV-1 vaccine.
HIV-1 infection is a deadly disease in the absence of treatment. The virus produces progressive immune deficiency, particularly a decline in CD4 T cells, which is associated with opportunistic infections, cancers and death in the absence of treatment. Great progress has been achieved in the past two decades with the development of combinations of drugs (ART) aimed at achieving undetectable amounts of virus in blood with is associated with progressive immune recovery. However, ART is not curative.
In the past two decades we have worked on early ART intervention in order to attempt to prevent immune damage and decrease HIV-1 reservoirs which prevent to achieve a control of the virus after stopping ART. We have initiated the first international randomised trial of treatment in early HIV-1 infection which was followed by an "eradication trial" (QUEST study) with additional immune intervention to ART showing an impact on these reservoirs. More recently we have collaborated to the SPARTAC trial using a short duration of ART. Our centre will be involved in 2015 in the RIVER study, part of the UK CHERUB collaboration, to test two therapeutic vaccines in association with ART and HDAC inhibitors as an attempt at "HIV-1 cure".
We are pursuing in parallel the evaluation of HIV-1 reservoirs in our long-term treated seroconverter cohort in order to assess various aspects of residual HIV-1 DNA in collaboration with a Belgian University with novel virological assays.
The final results of our European (FP7) prophylactic vaccine trial are expected in early 2016.
I am an honorary associate specialist in the Department of Infection and Immunity working in a clinical centre caring for over 3000 HIV-1 patients and a senior lecturer In the Department of Immunology. The HIV unit at the Royal Free Hospital, The Ian Charleson Day Centre, has a dedicated research unit and staff and has run more than 300 clinical trials since its creation.
We have at all times many research studies taking place in our unit, both academic and commercial, looking at various aspects of antiretroviral therapy and virological and immunological aspects of HIV-1 infection. We have also performed a phase I trial of a prophylactic vaccine as a unique recruiting center (FP7 program).
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