The Executive Committee of the WHIN Project is pleased to announce the awarding of three “Special Emphasis Pilot Projects”
Thomas J.. Hope, PhD.
The project will explore how HIV penetrates the cervical/vaginal mucosa leading to infection using two recently developed technologies. The project will employ a tissue explant culture system and methodologies that allow individual virions to be detected using high-resolution fluorescent microscopy.
1) Demonstrate the detection of individual virions in tissue sections.
2) Develop methods to decrease the background fluorescence of the tissue sections.
Richard M. Novak, MD.
DC-Sign, a recently identified lectin, is believed to play an important role in establishing new HIV infections. The project proposes to further characterize this substance and determine if its presence correlates to some independent variable, such as risk level, number of sexual partners, or menstruation.
1) To characterize the causative agent that inhibits HIV/DC-SIGN binding and determine its origin (e.g. human, bacterial, or fungal product) through HPLC, electrophoresis, and other standard protein analysis methods.
2) To determine whether this inhibition varies between highly exposed, uninfected women via heterosexual exposure, women at low or no risk of HIV infection, and women who are already infected.
3) To identify other factors that may affect HIV/DC-SIGN binding inhibition.
Gregory T. Spear, Ph.D.
Members of the family of TLR function in human cell recognition of microbes. As such, TLR play important roles in innate immune responses to microbes early during infection and are expressed on many types of immune cells. The goal of this project is to determine the TLR involved in stimulation of cells by BV-associated bacteria and HIV-inducing factor (HIF) in CVL samples.
1) Determine the TLR involved in stimulation of HIV-expression by bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis
2) Determine the TLR involved in stimulation of HIV-expression by HIF.