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Relations between Gastrointestinal and Oropharyngeal Secretions in HIV+ Adults: NIH Study Funded

October 15, 2007

HIV infected adults develop numerous complications due to their disease, including problems affecting their mouth and throat (oropharynx) and gastrointestinal system. These disorders may be separate or linked, and can increase a person’s susceptibility to infection, reduce their ability to heal from wounds, and can greatly reduce a person’s quality of life. Scientists at the New York University and the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research have received a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health to study these conditions. The study is titled “Crosstalk among oral and gastrointestinal soluble innate factors, HIV and microbes".

The study will examine a group of adults who are infected with the HIV virus (HIV+) just before they start on specific anti-HIV drugs (highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART). Control subjects for the study will not be infected with HIV (HIV-). Subjects will have samples taken from their mouths and gastrointestinal system, have complete oral health examinations (teeth, gums, mucosa), and will be followed over time to record any changes in their medical condition.

This large study consists of four Projects. Project #1 will determine if salivary proteins found in the mouth that provide protection for adults are different in persons who are HIV+ versus HIV-, and if treatments with HAART have an effect on these protective salivary molecules. Project #2 will define the oral bacteria in these different populations and if there are changes in oral microbes due to HIV-infection and/or HAART therapy. Project #3 will focus on the gastrointestinal tract using endoscopy to obtain fluid and biopsy samples, and will assess the immune status of these different groups of individuals with a comparison of gastrointestinal and oral samples. Project #4 will study antibacterial and antiviral activities in saliva, focusing on the host defense system, and will also compare defense systems present in the mouth, gastrointestinal system, and blood. The overall goal of the study is to define the interactions between host defense molecules and bacteria in HIV infection and subsequent antiretroviral therapy.

The Principal Investigator of this project is Dr. Malamud, a biochemist by training, and one of the leading researchers in the fields specializing in anti-HIV agents and oral-based diagnostics. Dr. Malamud is a research scientist at the NYU College of Dentistry, a Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology and Director of the HIV/AIDS Research Program at NYUCD.