HIV can invade the brain and cause chronic neural inflammation, leading to cognitive impairment in more than half of HIV-infected people. Antiretroviral therapies don’t completely relieve inflammation or reduce central nervous system damage—and opioid abuse makes things worse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded Joan W. Berman, Ph.D., and Harris Goldstein, M.D., a five-year, $4.2 million grant to investigate the molecular mechanisms that cause HIV-related inflammation in people who abuse opioids while taking antiretroviral therapies. HIV infection and opioids appear to modulate certain brain- and blood-cell genes, enabling HIV-infected cells to enter the brain and cause neuronal damage. Discovering those genes may help in identifying drugs that maintain the blood-brain barrier’s integrity and quell HIV-caused brain inflammation. Dr. Berman is the Irving D. Karpas Chair in Medicine and the Senior Academic Advisor to the Graduate Division of Biomedical Sciences, as well as a professor of pathology and of microbiology and immunology at Einstein. Dr. Goldstein is professor of pediatrics and of microbiology & immunology, the Charles Michael Chair in Autoimmune Diseases and director of the Einstein-Rockefeller-CUNY Center for AIDS Research. (1R01DA048609-01).
Posted on: Monday, July 22, 2019