Thomas Aagaard Rasmussen
Thomas Aagaard Rasmussen says: “The main barrier to curing HIV is persistence of virus in long-lived cells despite antiretroviral treatment (ART). It was recently shown that long-term persistence of infected cells is sustained through changes in cell death pathways, which can be targeted with venetoclax, a drug recently approved for leukemia. Given that the persistent HIV reservoir is established at the time when ART is commenced, I hypothesise that venetoclax will have its greatest effect on promoting death of infected cells and limiting long-term HIV persistence if administered concurrently with starting ART. I aim to test this in a randomised, controlled clinical trial in people with HIV initiating ART, where we will apply state-of-the-art methods to quantify HIV persistence and activity in cell death pathways. If successful, this will demonstrate a transformative new approach to targeting HIV persistence and will inform how and when inhibitors of apoptosis proteins can be used as part of an HIV cure strategy.”.
Thomas Aagaard Rasmussen has for several years been associated with the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at The University of Melbourne, most recently as Associate Clinical Director for HIV Cure Studies. He has relocated to Aarhus University Hospital to finish his specialist training and says further: “The Clinical Emerging Investigator fellowship will be instrumental in establishing myself as a research leader at Aarhus University Hospital and at the same time remain associated with the clinic”.