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Aaron Diamond Aids Research Centre

Activities: HIV AIDS/SRH,Others

Center originated in 1988 when the Aaron Diamond Foundation was asked to bring a group of funders together to discuss the development of a high level research effort concentrated on the basic science of HIV/AIDS. It was felt that such an effort was necessary to bring the city closer to its level of responsibility as the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

Realizing the urgency of the situation, Irene Diamond, president of the Foundation, decided to establish the
Diamond Center as a joint venture of the Foundation and the Department of Health of the City of New York, soon joined by the Public Health Research Institute and New York University School of Medicine. In mid-1989, Dr. David D. Ho, an internationally recognized microbiologist from the University of California, Los Angeles, was named Center Director. Dr. Ho played a key role in the design of the laboratory, which was coordinated by the Atlanta-based firm of Lord, Aeck & Sargent. Construction began in July, 1990, the first laboratory and office were ready late that fall, and the Center was officially opened and dedicated in April, 1991. Quickly reaching its full complement of scientists, the Diamond Center outgrew its space and, in the fall of 1996, expanded to an additional floor. In July 1996, Dr. Ho was appointed to a professorship at The Rockefeller University, now the site of the Center's main academic affiliation. The Rockefeller University provides important administrative and infrastructure support for the Center's clinical studies at the university's hospital.

ADARC has played an important role in breakthroughs that have helped redefine our understanding of HIV and changed the course of clinical care for AIDS patients. A few of the ADARC accomplishments that have altered the AIDS landscape can be found here.

 

The complexity of HIV and AIDS suggests that the conquest of this epidemic will require close interactions of scientists with complementary skills and talents. We have adopted a multidisciplinary approach — virology, immunology, molecular biology, and clinical medicine — to pursue a number of projects in AIDS research. Twenty five years after the identification of the AIDS virus, we have gained tremendous understanding of this complex adversary. Today, ADARC scientists are focusing on innovative research in four areas: 

Basic Research


The molecular and cellular biology of HIV is the subject of a range of basic research initiatives underway at ADARC. ADARC scientists have made seminal contributions to our understanding of HIV’s structure and the dynamics of viral replication. ADARC-led insights into how the immune system interferes with the virus’ life cycle are providing scientists a new basis for optimism about harnessing the body’s natural defenses to combat HIV. A current study is examining how evolution has endowed humans with resistance to most retroviruses, in hopes of discovering how they were extinguished and why HIV has gained resistance to our genomic defenses. In a study just released that paves the way for future drug research, ADARC scientists identified tetherin, a protein on the surface of human cells that prevents mutant strains of HIV from spreading. As traditional research funding becomes more competitive and risk-averse, ADARC is sustaining a culture of discovery that prizes innovation and blue-sky inquiry.

Next-Generation Therapeutics


With its clever mechanisms to dismantle and evade the immune system, HIV is a particularly difficult foe. Life-saving antiretroviral combination therapy championed by ADARC a decade ago has been improved and augmented by a new generation of medications: today there are 25 drugs for treatment of HIV and AIDS, with more in the research pipeline. But the prospects for newly-infected patients – 40 years of treatment with difficult life choices and an uncertain outcome - are still unsatisfactory.

Today ADARC is pioneering new approaches to drug development through diverse research initiatives with a singular mission: to develop a finite course of treatment leading to HIV remission, and ultimately a cure. By probing the pathogenesis of HIV, ADARC scientists are gaining new insights that will enable patients to live longer, better lives.

Vaccine Development


With startup funding from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) ADARC genetically engineered two candidate vaccines, ADVAX and ADMVA, which have completed early Phase I clinical testing in healthy HIV-negative volunteers. The vaccines target the Clade C strain of HIV that accounts for the most infections worldwide. Initial clinical trials demonstrated safety, and gave indications the candidate vaccines could stimulate specific immunity against the virus.

While these two vaccine candidates progress in development, funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery has enabled us to develop the "next generation" of HIV vaccines. In conjunction with investigators at The Rockefeller University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Academia Sinica, we are developing novel vaccines and adjuvants that harness the dendritic cell to improve both the quantity and the quality of the immune response.

We are also utilizing novel vaccine delivery strategies to strengthen the immune response to DNA-based vaccines. The electroporation system, manufactured by Ichor Medical Systems, Inc., has been shown to enhance the humoral and cellular immune response to several DNA-based vaccines in animals. The first Phase I clinical trial of this device in healthy volunteers is now underway at The Rockefeller University Hospital.

ADARC scientists are also designing vaccines that will raise antibodies directed against domain-2 of CD4, the primary receptor for HIV on the surface of cells. Such a strategy is rather unique in raising antibodies that could block HIV infection. The challenge will be to do so safely without causing harm to CD4 T cells.

Other Strategies to Prevent HIV-1 Infection

Scientists in our institute are also pursuing the use of a monoclonal antibodies directed to domain-2 of CD4 to block HIV infection. One such antibody, known as ibalizumab, has already shown antiviral effect in HIV-infected humans and SIV-infected monkeys. Ibalizumab is being tested for its ability to prevent SIV infection in monkeys and for its safety and tolerability in health human volunteers. Ultimately, the goal is to examine its utility in preventing HIV infection in humans. In addition, ADARC scientists are working to generate improved versions of ibalizumab so that the monoclonal antibody could be administered at a lower dose less frequently.

ADARC is a leader in exploring new strategies for preventing HIV transmission. Faculty are exploring the scientific and practical application of microbicides—topical products that help prevent sexually transmitted diseases including HIV—that act as a physical barrier and/or killing the virus when used before intercourse. Although there is little success to speak of to date, microbicides have the potential to revolutionize HIV prevention by giving women the power to protect themselves.

 For further information you can log into ADARC website given below.

http://www.adarc.org/current_research_400.htmlR

 

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