Areas of Investigation

Virology and immunology research at Gladstone is focused primarily on three primary and urgent challenges in HIV/AIDS. We desperately need a vaccine for those at risk of coming in contact with the virus, as well as a cure for the millions of people who are already infected. And finally, we need new approaches for restoring a normal lifespan to those who are HIV-positive—but dying much too early from diseases of aging.

In the area of prevention, we are continuing the work begun by our groundbreaking iPrEx study, which showed how a daily pill can prevent HIV infection in people likely to come in contact with it. We’re now working on the iPrEx Open-Label Extension Study (iPrEx OLE), which will enroll approximately 2,000 men and transgender women in a 72-week clinical trial.

Our scientists also continue to investigate the mechanisms by which HIV integrates and replicates within human hosts—while evading the host immune system. And we’ve launched studies to determine whether chronic, low-level inflammation associated with the disease—or the drugs themselves—are the major factors driving “accelerated aging” associated with HIV/AIDS.

As part of our work to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, we are investigating HIV latency as a member of the Martin Delaney Collaboratory—a consortium including academia, government and private industry. Latency occurs when HIV goes dormant and “hides” within cells, waiting for an opportunity to reemerge when antiretroviral medications are stopped. Better understanding of latency, and the development of new ways to attack it, could finally make it possible to cure HIV-infected patients.

In addition to HIV/AIDS, we’re working on a variety of other areas of investigation: Gladstone scientists are looking for new biological targets for drugs that will attack the hepatitis C virus—which has infected 170 million people worldwide. Hepatitis C is a common co-infection with HIV/AIDS. We are also investigating the molecular structure of viruses associated with cancer—and how to remove them from the body as a way to reduce the risk of cancer. And we are investigating why newborns and infants mount less effective immune responses to viruses than adults do.

Gladstone postdoctoral fellow Stefanie Sowinski is featured in a video about her work in Uganda, where she helps train a new generation of African researchers in the use of science to overcome HIV/AIDS.