SOURCE: The Campbell Foundation

The Campbell Foundation

February 05, 2015 10:14 ET

The Campbell Foundation Awards $100,000 Grant to HIV Researchers

Focus Is on Treating Neurological Complications of HIV

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL and BEERSHEVA, ISRAEL--(Marketwired - February 05, 2015) - The Campbell Foundation is pleased to announce that its first grant of 2015 has been awarded to researchers who have already made great strides toward the goal of treating the neurological complications of HIV such as dementia, neuropathy and a number of psychological conditions including depression.

The Lauren Sciences research team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel are the recipients of a $100,000 grant that will allow them to continue their research to prove that they can show efficacy by delivery of the HIV medication tenofovir through the blood brain barrier in mice using V-Smart, a technology developed with New York-based biotechnology company Lauren Sciences.

Thanks to the previous grant from The Campbell Foundation, this research team at Ben-Gurion was able to overcome the "blood brain barrier" that prevents tenofovir from passing into the brain to fight the disease, making it more effective. This second phase will test the efficacy of the treatment in a humanized mouse model with the goal to alleviate neurological HIV symptoms and eradicate HIV reservoirs that persist in the central nervous system and brain.

The success shown in the first phase of this project bodes well for the future of drug treatments for HIV in the central nervous system, according to Campbell Foundation Program Director Ken Rapkin.

"One of the foundation's major goals is to find a disease-modifying therapy for HIV/AIDS," said Rapkin. "The challenges associated with the delivery of HIV drugs through the blood brain barrier represent a critical unmet need in the field of AIDS research."

Tenofovir is one of the most frequently used antiretroviral drugs in the treatment of HIV. However, since it does not cross the blood brain barrier following administration, the treatment is not effective against the viral reservoir in the central nervous system, which is a major contributor to HIV-associated neurological impairment, according to Eliahu Heldman, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus at Ben-Gurion University and Chief Scientific Officer of Lauren Sciences.

Added Susan Rosenbaum, Chairman and CEO of Lauren Sciences: "This new grant will help us reach our next goal: To demonstrate that the V-Smart -delivered tenofovir reduces the viral load in the central nervous system and alleviates neurological symptoms. The success of this V-Smart therapeutic should ultimately provide more effective treatment for AIDS patients and improve their lives."

The Campbell Foundation was established in 1995 by the late Richard Campbell Zahn as a private, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting clinical, laboratory-based research into the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. It focuses its funding on supporting alternative, nontraditional avenues of research. In its 20th year, the Campbell Foundation has given away more than $9.5 million dollars, with about $1 million going to direct services. For more information go to: www.campbellfoundation.net.

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