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 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!

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”.