Skip to content

Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem awarded amfAR grant for research on HIV gene therapy

amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, supports research for HIV/AIDS understanding, treatment, prevention, and a cure. Hans-Peter Kiem, MD, PhD, is developing gene therapy to make a patient’s blood and immune system cells resistant to HIV, thanks in part to amfAR awarding him $480,000.

HIV was once considered incurable but can be controlled with medication. Researchers like Dr. Kiem are boldly exploring a cure, inspired by a special transplant that make cells HIV-resistant. The world-renowned pioneer in stem-cell and gene therapy aims to combine this knowledge with the use of CRISPR technology to protect against HIV. CRISPR stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” It’s a revolutionary gene editing technology that allows scientists to precisely change the DNA of organisms, including humans, plants, and animals. CRISPR technology is based on a natural defense mechanism found in bacteria, which is used to fend off viruses by storing a small piece of viral DNA within their own DNA.

Using CRISPR to edit genes precisely, the Kiem Lab is applying this protection to a person’s blood cells to fight HIV. They seek a simpler approach using a harmless virus to deliver the therapy through injections, potentially helping other conditions like sickle cell disease. The end goal is a practical and accessible HIV cure that’s akin to how cancer treatment became common. They are taking a similar leap in curing HIV and AIDS.