A local scientist at Scripps Research in Jupiter is on the frontlines of finding a cure for HIV.
Susana Valente, an associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, is part of a group of researchers from around the world working on a new strategy to find a cure.
Their work is so promising the National Institutes of Health just awarded the collaborative group a $26.5 million grant.
Valente said the team’s approach aims to silence and permanently remove HIV from the body.
“So this strategy came from the fact that a few years back we developed molecules that specifically target one protein that is, fundamentally, keeping that motor running on HIV and we were able to find a drug that blocks that protein and basically put the virus a little bit to sleep,” Valente said. “Now, we want to put it to sleep forever.”
The researchers are calling their new strategy “block-lock-excise,” by targeting HIV in new ways, without reactivating the virus.
“Basically the idea is that we found a way to lock it in and now we have to make sure that you really keep it that way and throw away the key and nobody has the key,” Valente said.