The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Mental Health, both part of the National Institutes of Health, recently expanded the scientific scope of an HIV-cure related funding announcement to allow for a broader range of studies and approaches.
Specifically, the funding opportunity "Targeting Persistent HIV Reservoirs," which was originally issued February 17, 2012, has been significantly expanded to allow for "proposed basic research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of HIV latency and persistence." Previously, the funding announcement had been limited to translational and applied research to develop methods for isolating, quantifying and characterizing rare reservoir cells; identify markers of latency or specific reactivators of HIV gene expression that would permit targeting of reservoir cells; and test strategies to eliminate or inactivate reservoir cells. Those three areas continue to be high priorities and remain the primary focus of the funding opportunity; however it has been expanded to also include research involving
- Approaches that target residual active HIV replication or ongoing, low-level HIV gene expression
- Studies that involve intensification of antiretroviral therapy
- Approaches that include some level of non-specific reactivation of HIV gene expression or T-cell activation within a margin of safety
- Basic research studies of viral or cellular factors involved in latency
- Development and use of animal models to study HIV persistence
- Concepts involving agents that are currently under clinical investigation, when proposed as a component of a novel combination strategy
- Studies involving therapeutic vaccines
The funding opportunity is part of the larger NIH HIV Cure Initiative designed to fuel research toward finding a cure for HIV. NIAID and NIMH will accept applications through April 25, 2014. For more information about the specific changes to the RFA, see the Notice of Change of Program Priorities to be Supported by PAR-12-109 "Targeting Persistent HIV Reservoirs (TaPHIR) (R21/R33)." View the complete RFA.