CHEO Research Institute investigators are actively involved in both clinical and basic science research related to HIV infection. Areas of clinical research include evaluation of responses to routine vaccinations and antiretroviral treatment toxicities in children living with or exposed to HIV. As well, CHEO investigators collaborate with researchers across the country on the epidemiology of HIV in children in Canada. These efforts are aimed at improving the lives of children and families affected by HIV, and preventing new HIV infections.
The group’s major research interests involve studying the role and regulation of cytokines in host defense against microbial infections, especially in HIV immunopathogenesis. Efforts are focused on delineating the regulation of IL-12 family of cytokines, namely IL-12, IL-23 and IL-27, with a special emphasis on understanding the mechanism by which bacterial or HIV infections impact expression and production of these cytokines.
Another focus of the group’s research is to understand the mechanism(s) by which monocytic cells develop resistance to HIV- or HIV Vpr protein-induced apoptosis. The aim is to devise strategies that would promote death of HIV-infected monocytic cells and, as such, potentially eliminate monocytic viral reservoirs.
Challenges to achieving and maintaining viral suppression among children living with HIV
In this study, we report on rates of viral suppression and the time to viral suppression among children living with HIV in Canada who initiated cART, and the factors associated with viral suppression and shorter time to viral suppression, and subsequent viral rebound. Our results highlight that despite living within a well structured resource-rich health system with universal healthcare coverage, Canadian children living with HIV face ongoing challenges with respect to attaining and maintaining viral suppression.
Blood Mitochondrial DNA Content in HIV-Exposed Uninfected Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
HIV exposure and ASD diagnosis were both independently associated with elevated blood mtDNA content in children and adolescents between the ages of two and 16 years. In children with both HIV exposure and ASD, mtDNA content was further elevated. These results clearly warrant further investigation into the possible effects of maternal, clinical, demographic, environmental, and other factors, and to validate whether these findings are reproduced in other cohorts. Furthermore, the prevalence of ASD within our HEU cohort is concerning and stresses the need for longer follow-up and further research on the long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes in the rapidly growing HEU population worldwide
Immunogenicity and Safety of the Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine in Girls Living With HIV
Our results underscore potential differences in HPV vaccine response in girls living with HIV and provide data to support the maintenance of a 3-dose HPV vaccination schedule6 until research supports noninferiority of a 2-dose schedule in this population. Further, these findings highlight the importance of HIV virologic suppression before vaccination to optimize antibody response.
Investigator, CHEO Research Institute
Emeritus Scientist, CHEO Research Institute