Medical school research team awarded $2 million for HIV research

A medical school research group has been awarded a $2 million federal grant to study how the immune system reacts to HIV infection, the school announced Tuesday.

Brad Jones, an assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and tropical medicine, will lead a team of researchers on a five-year study to explore “killer T-cells,” a part of the human immune system that kills HIV-infected cells. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – a branch of the National Institutes of Health – will provide a $2 million grant to fund the project, according to a release from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Jones said the study will examine why killer T-cells in some patients react differently to HIV infection than others, a reason why some individuals have a better response to treatment.

“We are trying to find out how to give the body’s immune response a boost and an edge so that these killer T-cells can do what they do best and kill these virus-infected cells,” Jones said in the release.

The study will be different than previous projects because it will use real white blood cells from patients infected with HIV who are undergoing treatment. Previous studies used artificial models, according to the release.

The results of the study will be used to help future HIV researchers develop better immunotherapy and vaccines for treating HIV and AIDS.

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