Research-for-Cure Academy

Ishana Harkoo

Nationality: South African
Institution: Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
Country of work: South Africa

What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?

I have worked for many years as a public healthcare doctor in South Africa, specifically, in HIV research for the second half of my career. Being in the heart of the HIV epidemic, I have witnessed first-hand its devastating socio-economic impact on patients, families and communities. Advancements have occurred in the HIV prevention sphere, however, there are indicators that, despite the progress made, the goal to achieve epidemic control will not be met. Similarly, whilst treatment has improved, there are many ongoing concerns related to economics, accessibility, long-term co-morbidities and resistance. The global need for a cure remains critical.

What is your current area of research?

My research experience to date has been predominantly in the field of HIV prevention, at CAPRISA. I have worked as a research clinician on several clinical trials, with exposure to various HIV prevention modalities, including microbicides, injectable antiretrovirals and, recently, broadly neutralising antibodies (bnAbs). My current projects, phase 1 clinical trials involving bnAbs in both HIV negative and positive women, will primarily evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of three bnAbs, administered alone and in combination. Other exploratory objectives will include assessments related to viral escape mutants, the impact on host immune responses and the effect on the latent HIV reservoir.