Rose Magala Nabatanzi
Institution: Makerere University
Country of work: Uganda
What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?
I have been conducting research to understand why immune dysfunctions among HIV-infected individuals persists despite effective antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV-infected individuals continue to suffer not only from opportunistic infections but also from non-AIDS illnesses due to chronic HIV infection. In our HIV treatment cohort, we have observed an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, malignancies, organ damage as well as an earlier onset of age-related illnesses among ART treated adults aging with HIV. Complete elimination of HIV virus from infected patients would therefore be the ultimate solution to overcome these challenges, hence my interest in HIV cure and remission research.
What is your current area of research?
I’m investigating innate immune responses in HIV-infected individuals who have been on ART for more than seven years, with sustained viral suppression and restored CD4-T cell counts. My results have shown poor functions of CD4 T-cells, Natural Killer cells, monocytes, and innate lymphoid cells despite effective therapy. In our study group, use of Atorvastatin adjuvant therapy reduced immune activation and inflammation among ART treated HIV-infected individuals. We need to explore further strategies to use adjuvant therapies like PD-1 blockade and anti-immune activating agents like IL-2 and IL-15 to complement ART and completely thwart HIV and its effects.