Professor Marc Pellegrini and his team have discovered that a drug called birinapant, designed to target and kill cancer cells, may also be effective in killing cells infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
With generous support for a second year from the Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust, managed by Mr Norman Bourke and Equity Trustees Limited, Professor Pellegrini and his team will be able to carry out essential pre-clinical tests.
“A philanthropic grant at the final (pre-clinical) stage of a research study is crucial as there is an absence of funding opportunities to get a project completed and ‘over the line,’” Professor Pellegrini said.
Existing therapies for HIV require lifelong treatment with drugs that suppress virus levels in the body but they do not kill virus-infected cells so the disease remains incurable.
The economic, social and individual burden of living with HIV is underscored by the $10 million annual expenditure required for the treatment of HIV infection in Victoria alone.
The Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust is funding the final stage of a long study and is an essential step to establish the drug regimen that will eradicate HIV.
Thanks to this grant, Professor Pellegrini and his team will implement a panel of highly sensitive tests to check for even the tiniest amount of residual HIV.
“This type of therapy is called a functional cure and will prevent adverse health outcomes for the infected individual but just as importantly it will prevent the spread of infection in the community.”
To hear more about how you can support medical research, please email Jane Turner or phone +61 3 9345 2840.