In the fight against HIV, Temple researchers are making news again. A Temple research team has been awarded $3.27 million by the National Institute of Health to study neuroinflammation following HIV-infection in regards to the opioid crisis.
The grant is to be used for a duration of five years.
Drs. Yuri Persidsky, MD, Ph.D. and Thomas Rogers, Ph.D. will be leading the research team.
Dr. Persidsky says that one of the goals of the research team is to learn about the over-production of inflammatory molecules which can lead to diminished effectiveness of opioids. Creating what Dr. Persidsky calls a “vicious cycle [of drug addiction].”
“We know that opioid addiction leads to a higher level of HIV-infection,” says Dr. Persidsky. “The more inflammation, the more drug addiction.”
Per the National Institute of Health, opioid abuse is a major contributor to the AIDS epidemic.
Drs. Persidsky and Rogers say that when an individual is affected with HIV, their opioid receptors become desensitized which means that the individual may become more susceptible to pain and run the risk of abusing their prescription opioids.
In July, researchers from Temple and the University of Nebraska successfully eliminated the HIV virus in the genomes of about one-third of the mice they tested.
Dr. Persidsky says that it’s important for his team to be doing their research in Philadelphia given that Philadelphia is one of the largest major cities with the highest amount of drug overdoses. Many of them, individuals living with HIV.
The NIH says that nearly one-quarter of AIDS cases stem from drug usage from a hypodermic needle.