Final battle against AIDS, with the aim of reaching a definitive cure within five years that will eradicate the virus. The Corriere della Sera writes it today, which in an article highlights the role of two Italian scientists in medical research in the USA.
Four projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) see as leader or coleader the microbiology and immunology team of the Vaccine Center of Emory University in Atlanta led by the Italian scientist Guido Silvestri, who has been involved in the battle against AIDS for 30 years. Among the most promising of 10 programs, financed by the NIH with 29 million dollars, is that of Emory which has as its leader another Italian scientist, Mirko Paiardini, together with Silvestri himself and Deanna Kulpa a professor of Polish origin from the team of Silvestri.
“For 21 years – Paiardini tells Corriere – we have been studying the virus, especially with experiments on primates. The therapies found so far are effective, but they do not eradicate the virus” which is different, more complex and insidious than the corona. “In scientific terms we speak of reservoirs: in practice, blocked by the cocktail of drugs, the virus is hiding. Where? In the past we looked for it mainly in the blood but now with our project and the work on monkeys we are able to look for it everywhere: in the tissues, in the lymph nodes, in the intestine, in the brain. And, once we have discovered its refuge, the mechanism of persistence, we will be able to eliminate it with the immunomodulatory techniques designed in these years of research “.
So far Silvestri and Paiardini have developed their scientific work also collaborating with large pharmaceutical groups, especially Merck and GlaxoSmithKline. “Once again – explains Paiardini, – we have chosen to collaborate with two groups, Merck and ImmunityBio, a young and very innovative company, as requested by the NIH: the plans financed by the Institute must have one or two industrial partners”.
The adventure of Paiardini, from the Marche region, started from the University of Urbino, but gained momentum thanks to the research opportunities offered to him first by the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and then at Emory. Where, as a full professor, he joined Silvestri’s team, also from the Marche region (from Senigallia), who arrived in the USA 10 years earlier. In the last year and a half, the two have worked, like many other immunologists, on the coronavirus, but their primary mission remains AIDS: against which they now also use knowledge, especially those on the new RNA vaccines for Covid-19.