EPIICAL in The Lancet: a new strategy to estimate the viral reservoir in HIV-infected children

Paolo Palma and his colleagues recently published in The Lancet HIV the paper “The HIV-1 antibody response: a footprint of the viral reservoir in children vertically infected with HIV“, outlining the reliability of HIV-1-specific antibody concentrations to estimate viral replication and the latent reservoir in patients on long-term ART.

Application of previously developed diagnostic tests in children and in limited-resources settings is small, because of their cost, the large blood volumes required, and labour-intensive technologies.

The quantification and characterisation of HIV-1-specific antibodies could instead provide a cost-effective and highly reproducible tool to estimate viral replication and the latent reservoir in patients on long-term ART with viral suppression. Simple, inexpensive approaches that use small blood volumes to measure viral persistence in children on suppressive ART might be useful for screening children for enrollement into therapeutic vaccine trials and other protocols aimed at achieving HIV-1 remission.

A step closer towards an AIDS free generation!

EPIICAL at the 23rd International AIDS Conference

 

The 23rd International AIDS Conference take virtually place from today to July 10th. Attendants have the possibility to engage with the latest HIV science, advocacy and knowledge and also to hear about recent data on COVID-19 and HIV during the Virtual COVID-19 Conference that will be held on July 10th-11th.

EPIICAL Project will contribute to the conference with two posters presenting data related to the immune-response in early-treated HIV-infected children.

  • De Rossi A, Dalzini A, Ballin G, et al. The size of HIV reservoir is associated with telomere shortening and immunosenescence in early ART-treated HIV-infected children. Oral presentation
  • Ruggiero A, Cotugno N, Domínguez-Rodríguez S,  Zicari S, Rinaldi S, Zangari P, Tagarro A, Foster C, De Rossi A, Nastouli E, Luzuriaga K, Giaquinto C, Rossi P, Pawha S, Palma P, on behalf of the EPIICAL consortium. Aging B-cells (ABC) and anti-Env humoral responses are associated with T-bet expression in B-cells of perinatally HIV infected children (PHIV) treated within 24 months of life (the CARMA cohort). Poster
  • Domínguez-Rodríguez S, Tagarro A, Serna Pascual M, Otwombe K, Violari A, Fernández S, Nhampossa T, Lain M,  Vaz P , Behuhuma NO, Danaviah S, Dobbels E, Barnabas S, Cotugno N, Zangari P, Palma P, Oletto A,  Nardone A, Nastouli E, Spyer M, Kuhn L, Rossi P, Giaquinto C, Rojo P on behalf of EPIICAL consortium. A Machine Learning Approach for Predicting Probability of Death or Disease Progression in an Early-Treated Pediatric African cohort. Poster

Congratulation to all authors!

New publications from EPIICAL Consortium

Just published – data on T & B cell memory and T cell function in early-treated children in the Journal of Immunology and AIDS.
Antiretroviral treatment (if started at an early stage) is able to reduce the amount of HIV virus in a child’s body. EPIICAL is studying the characteristics of the immune response and the amount of HIV virus, in children with HIV who are treated at an early stage. This is to outline treatment strategies to help find a cure for HIV.

Congratulations to all the authors!

Human Rights Day

 

Today we celebrate Human Rights Day. Percentage of HIV-infected children receiving antiretroviral therapy is still very low in low and-middle income countries, as reported by UNICEF.

EPIICAL is the world’s largest consortium dedicated to science of HIV remission. It represents a community made of people affected by HIV, healthcare workers, scientists, Independent Scientific Advisors and pharma representatives, all working together to develop and apply data to inform novel therapeutic strategies in perinatally HIV-infected children to reach HIV remission. Let’s hear from the voice of Dr. Almoustapha Maiga, virologist at University of Bamako, Mali, how can EPIICAL impact in children’s life in developing countries. #StandUp4HumanRights

Earth study enrols 150 patients!

The Earth study has enrolled its 150th patient in Bamako, Mali. A huge congratulations to Bamako and all sites involved in the Earth study.

The Earth study – Cohort of Early Anti-Retroviral Treatment in HIV-perinatally infected Children – is a prospective multicenter, low-interventional study of HIV+ perinatally infected children on sustained suppressive antiretroviral therapy started before 3 months of age.

The Earth study’s primary aim is to engage in care and monitor clinical, virological and immunological features of early treated children in limited-resource settings. This is, ultimately, in order to identify potential participants in proof-of-concept trials directed towards a HIV cure.

With 150 patients enrolled into the study, we are now one step closer to achieving our aim of improving HIV care.

The Earth study is firmly nested in the goals of EPIICAL (early treated perinatally HIV infected individuals: improving children’s actual life), which is the world’s largest consortium dedicated to science of HIV remission. The EPIICAL consortium represents a community made of people affected by HIV, healthcare workers, scientists, researchers, Independent Scientific Advisors and pharma representatives, all working together to develop and apply data to inform novel therapeutic strategies in perinatally HIV-infected children to reach HIV remission.

A massive thank you to all enrolling sites!

But we’re not stopping there…. we are now focusing on reaching our new target of 300 patients.

World AIDS Day 2019

 

“The mission is remission. We believe that an HIV remission/cure is attainable.”

Today we celebrate World AIDS Day: this year theme is “Communities make the difference”.

In the recent EPIICAL 3rd General Assembly, Carlo Giaquinto and Paolo Rossi, EPIICAL coordinators, stated that “Working together to deliver good science is the way”.

EPIICAL (Early treated perinatally HIV infected individuals: improving children’s actual life) is the world’s largest consortium dedicated to science of HIV remission. It represents a community made of people affected by HIV; healthcare workers, scientists, Independent Scientific Advisors and pharma representatives, all working together to develop and apply data to inform novel therapeutic strategies in perinatally HIV-infected children to reach HIV remission.

How is EPIICAL doing this?

EPIICAL is developing a predictive platform, using existing and new data, to inform treatment strategies that can lead to HIV remission. Unique in EPIICAL are the cohorts of vertically infected European and African children that are providing a deep insight on viral reservoir and immune response characteristics of early treated children. Vertically infected children represent the ideal population to test novel therapeutic strategies towards HIV remission, thanks to their small viral reservoir and their well resilient immune system.

Why are we confident that EPIICAL can achieve HIV remission?

Data presented at the 3rd EPIICAL General Assembly show that a mix of different immunotherapeutic strategies seems to be the most promising way to allow for an ART-free HIV remission. HIV therapeutic DNA-vaccine (the focus of HURRICANE study) will be an important component of this mix. The HURRICANE study is the only ongoing study on HIV-vertically infected children, evaluating therapeutic vaccine effects on the child’s viral reservoir and immune response.

Critical to the EPIICAL project is the contribution of social science. Thinking about how and why people feel, think and act can improve protocol design, inform interventions, support voluntary choice in clinical interventions, and finally improve health and wellbeing outcomes for children and their mothers enrolled into studies.

What next for EPIICAL?

One of the key achievements of EPIICAL, over the last 4 years, has been the development of the strong and passionate international network collaboration. As EPIICAL progresses over the next 4 years, it will design interventions based on the learning so far.  The next appointment is in March 2020 for CROI, during which 8 EPIICAL abstracts will be presented.

Indeed EPIICAL is working to meet the new challenges of HIV community! #WorldAIDSDay

Universal Children’s Day

Today, November 20th, is Universal Children’s Day. This year,  we are celebrating in Cape Town, South Africa, where the EPIICAL 3rd General Assembly is being hosted. Universal Children’s Day is dedicated to the rights of the child, with one key aspect being the right for every child to access the highest standard of health. However, at the end of 2018, there were 37.9 million people living with HIV worldwide and, among them, 1.7 million are children aged less the 15 years.

The Early treated Perinatally HIV Infected Individuals (EPIICAL) is the world’s largest consortium dedicated to science of HIV remission, consisting of well-known scientists and clinicians working in HIV and pediatrics, from 26 institutions worldwide.

EPIICAL is strongly committed to fighting the HIV paediatric epidemic. Unique to the EPIICAL study are the cohorts of HIV-infected children who are treated early, and will be studied to develop strategies to develop treatment for HIV remission in HIV-infected children.
The knowledge gained from the consortium’s work has the potential to transform the lives of HIV-infected children worldwide, as well as potential applicability for the treatment of HIV in adults, particularly those who initiate early anti-retroviral therapy.

EPIICAL publication on Journal of AIDS: treat early, suppress fast!

 

Treat early, suppress fast!

In a new paper just published online in Journal of AIDS, EPIICAL researchers investigated the association between the timing of antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation and time-to suppression​ among HIV-infected infants who initiated​ ART within the first 28 days of life.

The study showed as children treated within 7 days of life have a faster​ time to viral suppression, which may result in a favorable ​impact on the viral reservoir.

These data strongly support the potential benefits of starting ART within 7 days of birth even in comparison to​ starting from 8 to 28 days after birth.