Seth Bloom of Massachusetts General Hospital in the U.S. together with Sinaye Ngcapu of the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research (CAPRISA) in South Africa will investigate how bacterial vaginosis (BV) and non-Lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiota elevate the risk of contracting HIV-1 to help develop preventative therapies. South Africa has high rates of BV and microbiota-associated vaginal HIV transmission but the underlying mechanisms are unknown, which makes it difficult to prevent. The researchers will combine samples from South African cohorts with innovative in vitro assays to test their hypothesis that bacterially-produced putrescine, which is a BV-associated metabolite, in the cervicovaginal mucosa enhances HIV risk by increasing the post-translational modification and thereby activation of a molecule involved in promoting HIV protein production. They will also test existing inhibitors of this pathway as novel, pre-clinical HIV prevention candidates to establish the groundwork for a clinical trial.
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