HIV-related tumour study granted $5.5m

Saturday September 02 2023

Team of immunology research scientists working on cell at Kenya Medical Research Institute headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya on December 21, 2021. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NMG


Sub-Saharan Africa has received a $5.5 million grant to investigate virus-associated tumours among individuals living with HIV patients.

The five-year grant to Moffitt Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, will support the creation of a multinational research partnership aimed at gathering data that can inform prevention and treatment strategies for this population.

Through this specialised research center grant, the Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center is expanding its viral infection research efforts in Africa.

Read: Stem cell centre raises tempo on research

In Sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of HIV patients reside, cancer is a leading cause of death. The virus weakens immune systems, making them more vulnerable to cancer-causing infections.

Also, individuals living with HIV in this region also face challenges in accessing effective cancer treatment and experience poorer outcomes compared with other populations globally. Also, controlling viral infections such as human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr becomes more challenging, increasing their risk of developing cancer.


Cancer burden

To address these challenges, Moffitt will collaborate with institutions in the US, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Germany to establish the Partnership to Assess Viral and Immune Landscape Intersections with Oncology (PAVILION) programme for people living with HIV.

PAVILION’s primary objective is developing cancer prevention and treatment strategies specifically tailored for low- and middle-income countries heavily impacted by both high rates of HIV infection and increasing cancer burdens.

The programme will focus on studying various cancers associated with HPV, including anal, cervical, oropharyngeal, penile, and vulvar cancers. Furthermore, PAVILION aims to explore the potential role of the Epstein-Barr virus in conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma.

Read: Invest in new vaccines, scientists tell Sub-Sahara Africa

Founding director of Moffitt’s Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer, Dr Anna Giuliano, “This is important research with potential to impact millions of people living with HIV.”

Moffitt Cancer Center is a renowned Tampa-based facility dedicated to contributing to cancer prevention and cure.