“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