New HIV/AIDS registry to help answer key questions

August 29, 2012

A new community-based HIV/AIDS registry, one of the first in the nation to include patients from rural areas, will provide a unique opportunity to find answers to myriad medical questions, from the impact of drugs such as marijuana on the virus to why some patients naturally ward off the disease.

The registry is being created by a Michigan State University infectious disease team led by Peter Gulick, an associate professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine studying HIV for decades and operating three clinics with more than 700 patients.

"Despite some notable successes in recent years, there still is a critical need to address the multiple problems that afflict all HIV infected populations," Gulick said. "While there are many HIV registries across the nation, almost all are university-based in urban settings, providing that is not always diverse or representative, which can limit progress."

Research of in rural areas is lacking, said Linda Dale, also with the college and a member of Gulick's team. Additionally, there is a need to study the use of drugs such as marijuana in patients in various settings.

The new registry will draw patients from Gulick's clinic in mid-Michigan, as well as clinics in the Saginaw area and northern lower Michigan. Patient consents are being accumulated and a database soon will be finalized.

"The registry will help us identify groups of HIV patients that have specific characteristics, which allows researchers to investigate populations of patients not previously adequately studied," Dale said.

It will capture not only from patients but socio-economic characteristics, too, creating an epidemiological for researchers. Already, several MSU researchers have expressed interest in setting up projects:

*Norbert Kaminski, professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of the Center for Integrative Toxicology, will be investigating the impact of drugs, specifically marijuana-related cannabinoids, on HIV-infected white blood cells. A large number of HIV patients, between 25-50 percent, use marijuana to stimulate their appetite. However, the effect on the is unclear. Many patients in the registry have confirmed evidence of drug use, including marijuana.

*Andrea Amalfitano with the College of Osteopathic Medicine seeks to analyze genetic factors that may influence why some patients never see a good restoration of their immune system cells. Finding the connection could prove useful in developing new drugs.

*Sung Jin Kim and Jeannine Scott from microbiology and molecular genetics are interested in looking at the function of natural killer cells, which are found in the immune system and crucial in fighting off viral infections in the body.

"Using all resources the university offers, we plan to develop an HIV-focused clinical, behavioral and basic discovery research program which translates into the improved health of ," Gulick said. "This is the heart of clinical translational research."

The team is working with Nicole Jones of MSU's Biomedical Research Informatics Core to set up the data collection and storage of information. All patient data is de-identified and confidential.

Funding for setting up the registry came from the colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, with the support of deans William Strampel and Christopher Brown, respectively.

Explore further: Marijuana-like chemicals inhibit human immunodeficiency virus in late-stage AIDS

Related Stories

Marijuana-like chemicals inhibit human immunodeficiency virus in late-stage AIDS

March 20, 2012
Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have discovered that marijuana-like chemicals trigger receptors on human immune cells that can directly inhibit a type of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) found in late-stage AIDS, ...

Bone marrow transplant eliminates signs of HIV infection

July 26, 2012
Two men with longstanding HIV infections no longer have detectable HIV in their blood cells following bone marrow transplants. The virus was easily detected in blood lymphocytes of both men prior to their transplants but ...

Recommended for you

Candidate AIDS vaccine passes early test

July 24, 2017
The three-decade-old quest for an AIDS vaccine received a shot of hope Monday when developers announced that a prototype triggered the immune system in an early phase of human trials.

Girl's HIV infection seems under control without AIDS drugs

July 24, 2017
A South African girl born with the AIDS virus has kept her infection suppressed for more than eight years after stopping anti-HIV medicines—more evidence that early treatment can occasionally cause a long remission that, ...

Meds by monthly injection might revolutionize HIV care (Update)

July 24, 2017
Getting a shot of medication to control HIV every month or two instead of having to take pills every day could transform the way the virus is kept at bay.

Paris spotlight on latest in AIDS science

July 21, 2017
Some 6,000 HIV experts gather in Paris from Sunday to report advances in AIDS science as fading hopes of finding a cure push research into new fields.

Scientists elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV in calves

July 20, 2017
Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have achieved a significant step forward, eliciting broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) to HIV by immunizing calves. The findings offer insights for HIV vaccine ...

Heart toxin reveals new insights into HIV-1 integration in T cell genome

July 20, 2017
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 may have evolved to integrate its genetic material into certain immune-cell-activating genes in humans, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.