As part of a $26.5-million grant from the NIH, Dr. Lishomwa “Lish” Ndhlovu, Professor of Immunology in Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, will be serving as one of the Principal Investigators to lead the HOPE Collaboratory. The HOPE (HIV Obstruction by Programmed Epigenetics) Collaboratory represents a completely new strategy for curing HIV.
The institutions involved in the HOPE Collaboratory, Weill Cornell Medicine, Gladstone Institute of Virology, and Scripps Research, are employing an alternative tactic known as block-lock-excise. This tactic targets latent HIV in new ways and without reactivating it. Utilizing previous knowledge regarding how other viruses have become naturally inactivated over time, the HOPE approach aims to silence and permanently remove HIV from the body. Over the past 40 years, advances in treating HIV have moved HIV from a deadly virus to one that can be controlled with daily drugs, but a cure has not been found.
“We have not yet been able to achieve a cure for HIV because the virus finds a way to hide out in reservoirs of cells in the body,” explains Dr. Ndhlovu. “The HOPE grant will allow us to test whether a block-lock-and-excise approach can achieve long-term silencing of HIV in all relevant tissue sanctuaries so it cannot be released from cells. Coupled with permanent removal of any remnants of the silenced virus, we hope this will prevent the rebound of HIV when antiviral drugs are stopped, and lead to a cure.”
The HOPE Collaboratory is one of 10 groups awarded a 5-year grant from the NIH under the Martin Delaney Collaboratories Program. The HOPE Collaboratory team, in addition to Dr. Ndhlovu (Principal Investigator, Weill Cornell Medicine), is led by Dr. Melanie Ott (Program Director and Principal investigator, Gladstone Institutes) and Dr. Susana Valente (Principal Investigator, Scripps Research in Florida).