AIDS: Existing Treatments Are Not Effective Enough
As the cause of AIDS, HIV is responsible for a deadly, worldwide pandemic. In 2005, about 40 million people were carrying the virus. In the same year, 2.8 million of them died as a result. Over the next 20 years, nearly 70 million people will die of it, including 55 million in sub-Saharan Africa. Some drugs help reduce the effects of the virus considerably, but several things make existing treatments less effective, including the cost of medication, the emergence of resistant strains, and side-effects. It is, therefore, essential to keep studying the viral and cellular factors underlying HIV-related illnesses. Dr. Michel J. Tremblay, Canada Research Chair in Human Immunoretrovirology, a professor at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine and director of his own human immunoretrovirology laboratory, is interested in many aspects of HIV infection. One focus of his research is the host cell molecule functions acquired by the virus. He is trying to identify the cell factors involved in transporting the virus and the role played by trophoblasts (uterine nutrient-providing membranes) in transmitting it. Tremblay is also studying the possible links between HIV and other human diseases, including leishmaniosis and hepatitis C. He is also doing a large-scale analysis of gene profiles following viral infections. To do this, he is using biochip technology, which helps in the analysis of DNA fragments, and powerful bio-informatics tools. He also plans to examine the oral transmission of HIV by using a new experimental model of oral mucus. By advancing our knowledge of the interactions between HIV and human cells, Tremblay may be paving the way for the discovery of new therapeutic targets in the war against AIDS.