EARTH study – first patient enrolled in Mali

We are delighted to report that the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Gabriel Touré in Mali (in liaison with Anne-Genevieve Marcelin, France) has enrolled its first patient in the key EPIICAL study, EARTH. This marks a new chapter in the study, with the scope of the cohort widening to include participants not only from South Africa and Mozambique, but also from the west African site in Bamako. Continue reading “EARTH study – first patient enrolled in Mali”

EPIICAL at IAS 2019

With issue of the 2nd EPIICAL newsletter, we are pleased to announce that a poster on the CARMA study has been accepted for a presentation at both the 10th International AIDS Society 2019 Conference on HIV Science and pre-meeting ‘2019 HIV & HBV Cure Forum‘.

Pablo Rojo, on behalf of the CARMA study researchers, will illustrate the main factors associated with low viral reservoir in a large multi-centre cohort of early treated children infected with HIV on sustained suppressive ART for more than a decade. Globally, the CARMA study is the focal point of EPIICAL investigations and will provide important insights into clinical and biological features of early treated suppressed HIV-infected children, as well as novel strategies to achieve long-term viral suppression without ART in this particular population.

The biannual IAS Conference on HIV Science is the world’s most influential meeting on HIV research and its applications. Gathering more than 5,000 participants from over 140 countries, IAS 2019 will present the most critical advances in basic, clinical and operational HIV research that moves science into policy and practice.

Read more here!

1st EPIICAL Newsletter

With the EPIICAL project being a hive of activity over the last year, we have collected a selection of contributions, stories and articles to bring you the very first edition of the EPIICAL newsletter! The issue contains an update on the evolution and recent progress in the HIV pediatric research coordinated by the project. We get to know the clinicians that locally sustain HIV programs and services with reports of their experience in the EARTH (‘Early Anti-Retroviral Treatment in HIV-infected Children’) study. Moreover, we take a closer look at a team of young researchers in their day-to-day work. We extend our thanks to all involved who contributed with their views, knowledge and personal skills to highlight the spirit and mission of the EPIICAL consortium.

Read more here!

CROI 2019: Oral presentation by members of the EPIICAL team

The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) was held on 4-7 March 2019, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington. CROI brings together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases.

At this year’s event, EPIICAL team member Sara Dominguez Rodriguez delivered the following oral presentation:

NEONATAL ART < 7 DAYS VS 7-28 DAYS REDUCED TIME TO SUPPRESSION

Alfredo Tagarro, Sara Dominguez Rodriguez, Thanyawee Puthanakit, Paolo Palma, Caroline Foster, Thidarat Jupimai, Nicola Cotugno, Jintanat Ananworanich, Santiago Jimenez de Ory, Paola Zangari, Maria Luisa Navarro, Paolo Rossi, Eleni Nastouli, Carlo Giaquinto, Pablo Rojo Conejo

This important study illustrated recent results that provide further evidence that supports the earliest antiretroviral therapy initiation in infants. Early antiretroviral therapy (ART) in children is associated with better clinical and virological outcome. The hypothesis explored is that HIV-perinatally infected neonates initiating ART within <7 days of life have a better long-term clinical and virological response than neonates treated ≥7 days and ≤28 days of life.

You can find the full webcast of the presentation here.

CROI: Members of the EPIICAL team to attend in Seattle

Seattle is gearing up for the 2019 edition of CROI next week. Held at Washington State Convention Center on 4th-7th March, the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections is an important event in the EPIICAL calendar and an opportunity for many consortium members to discuss the latest developments pertaining to the project. Included on the agenda, our researchers will make an oral presentation illustrating recent results that provide further evidence that supports the earliest ART initiation in infants.

CROI is a global model of collaborative science and the premier international venue for bridging basic and clinical investigation to clinical practice in the field of HIV and related viruses. Established in 1993, the event provides a forum for basic scientists and clinical investigators to present, discuss, and critique their investigations into the epidemiology and biology of human retroviruses and associated diseases. It is the preeminent HIV research meeting in the world and attracts more than 4,000 HIV/AIDS research leaders internationally. The goal of the conference is to provide a forum for researchers to translate their laboratory and clinical findings into tangible progress against the HIV pandemic.

The EPIICAL project, supported by ViiV Healthcare, represents the largest international consortium of well-known scientists involved in the management and treatment of paediatric HIV infection (www.epiical.org). The researchers collaborate together with the aim of identifying new therapeutic strategies that will allow the safe interruption of antiretroviral drug treatment with the control of the HIV replication, the so called virological remission. Encouraging progress and results were recently presented at the EPIICAL General Assembly meeting, which took place in Madrid in November, leading to the initiation of new clinical studies as one of the next steps resulting from the progress of the research.

A European multi-center study, called CARMA, which through innovative methods aims to analyze the viral reservoir and the immune system, has just completed its recruitment.

In parallel, a study was carried out in several African centres involving HIV-infected children, who started therapy at a very early stage, to better understand, through close checks, the virological and immunological characteristics of children with more ‘chance’ of achieving virological remission. To reach this remission goal, high hopes are being placed on a therapeutic HIV vaccine, the development of which is being supported by a recently awarded grant from the National Institute of Health (USA). This represents the first “proof of concept” pilot study of the EPIICAL project that will be performed in three countries, namely Italy, Thailand and South Africa. The success of this vaccine could have an impact on the reduction of the viral reservoir and facilitate the possibility of virological remission.

These studies confirm the great collaborative effort that exists between the physicians and researchers involved in the EPIICAL project with the goal of accelerating the search for new treatment options for both children and adults with HIV infection.

Prof Rossi, who along with Prof Giaquinto, leads the consortium is confident: “The results achieved so far, make us hope for an effective and safe vaccine that will change the history of the disease”.

A paper on predictors of faster virological suppression in HIV infected children has been just accepted for publication in AIDS

Born from the collaboration among EPPICC and EPIICAL, the paper “Predictors of faster virological suppression in early treated infants with perinatal HIV from Europe and Thailand” demonstrates that even amongst HIV infected infants initiating combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) within 6 months of life, earlier treatment initiation predicts faster virological suppression. Higher baseline CD4 in percentage and lower HIV viral load are also independent predictors of faster virological suppression. Strongly, these results provide additional support for earlier cART initiation in infants with perinatal HIV and indicate that early treatment influences key virological and immunological parameters that could have important consequences for long term health.

The full text version will be soon available in the section Publications.

The EPIICAL 2nd General Assembly was a fabulous success!

Held at the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón on 14th to 16th November 2018, the 2nd EPIICAL General Assembly welcomed around 50 scientists and healthcare professionals working together to establish new scientific efforts leading to HIV remission in children.

The 3-day meeting gave rise to highly fruitful discussion, at a time when the project has entered a very active phase, with new collaborations ready to start and a closer collaboration with the ViiV research network.

The Assembly acknowledged that EPIICAL is “a tough, large and world mixed project, made of people pulling together research in order to come up with a strategy which ultimately will produce new therapeutic strategies for curing HIV-infected children and new ways of using them”.

We extend a big thank you to Maria Angeles Muñoz-Fernandez, María Dolores García Alonso and José Luis Jimenez from Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón for their warm hospitality and their untiring effort over the course of the event.

We also owe a special thanks to the ViiV HC team for being part of the EPIICAL family in these 3 days of intensive exchange and for their inspiring contributions to the discussion.

Looking forward to meeting you all in Cape Town next year!