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Centre de recherche
Tuesday, April 26 2016
Press release

CHU Sainte-Justine to further study the immunity of mothers and children infected with HIV and hepatitis C virus

Major grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation

MONTRÉAL, April 26, 2016 The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) just announced the nearly $20 million in funding, including $4.1 million for Université de Montréal (UdeM) through its John-R.-Evans Leaders Fund. Pr. Hugo Soudeyns, who is a researcher at CHU Sainte-Justine and the director of the Department of Microbiology, Infectiology & Immunology at the Faculty of Medicine of UdeM, is among nine of the university’s researchers whose project received financial support.

The project led by Pr. Soudeyns aims at studying viral infections in mothers and children, more specifically understanding how viruses (HIV and hepatitis C virus) and the immune system interact. "Can maternal immune responses prevent mother-to-child transmission of these viruses during pregnancy and childbirth? How does the immune system develop in an infected child? How do immune responses recover in children who were treated for leukemia, for whom viruses in general are very dangerous?" These are some of the questions that he will strive to answer.

The work of Pr. Soudeyns is part of the EPIC4 pan-Canadian study, which examines health outcomes in HIV-infected children who were treated with powerful combinations of antiviral drugs. "We have already shown that some of those children who were treated early can mount immune responses against the virus, which may help keep the infection under control", he says. "We still need to discover the specifics of what makes these immune responses so effective".

Thanks to the CFI, the scientist will be equipped to perform tests using "single-cell genomics", an advanced technique that will allow the identification of the specific role played by each individual type of white blood cell that participates in the immune response. "We would also like to understand how some rare infected patients succeed in controlling HIV without medication", he added. "We suspect that their immune system is involved, but which specific components are at play remains unknown".

This work is part of the international research strategy on HIV cure  ("Towards an HIV Cure Initiative") led by the International AIDS Society (IAS), an initiative that mobilizes, coordinates and supports the joint efforts of researchers on five continents with the objective of accelerating scientific research to cure the disease. The EPIC4 study, co-led by Dr. Fatima Kakkar (CHU Sainte-Justine), Dr. Jason Brophy (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa) and Dr. Ari Bitnun (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto), is jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the IAS, and the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR).

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About the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center

CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 200 research investigators, including over 90 clinician-scientists, as well as 385 graduate and postgraduate students focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The Center is part of CHU Sainte-Justine, which is the largest mother-child center in Canada and second pediatric center in North America. More on research.chusj.org

Source
CHU Sainte-Justine
Contact

Marise Daigle, Communications Office, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center 
514 345-4931, extension 3256
marise.daigle@recherche-ste-justine.qc.ca

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Updated on 4/26/2016
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