Federal Grants Give UND a Boost in Continued AIDS Research
Researchers at the University of North Dakota school of medicine who are studying neurological problems linked with HIV infection and AIDS have been awarded a significant grant to continue their work.
The grant from the National Institutes of Health amounts to $1.45 million and will fund the school’s ongoing research for the next five years. This is the second time the university has received this type of grant to support this work.
One of two head researchers on the topic, Dr. Jonathan Geiger, explained that both federal grants are aimed at zeroing in on what researchers believe are distinctive processes that influence how much calcium exist within the nerves. Geiger further stated that mechanism managing calcium content are, at least in part, problematic when it comes to the neurological troubles observed in some patients who are coping with this life-threatening condition.
Specific neurological issues those infected with HIV have experienced range from problems with basic motor skills to dementia, Geiger said, with those complications being more acute and common in the early stage of the AIDS pandemic. As many as 20 percent of the people impacted by HIV and AIDS were thought to have experienced these more serious problems in those days, but Geiger said reports of those issues from patients have seen a steep decline in recent years.
These days, Geiger said, about half of those infected are exhibiting symptoms suggesting neurological problems that are not as severe as what was the case in the past.
Some of the latest medicines used to stave off the affects of the disease, which are designed to help prolong a person’s life, may be contributing to the calcium complication, but Geiger said that is not true of all of these drugs.
The hope for this ongoing research at UND, Geiger said, is that medicinal procedures can be altered and built to assist patients who are either at risk for, or showing signs linked to, common age disorders. The goal is to accomplish all of this while also continuing to curb the replication of the virus itself.
According to Geiger, only those research undertakings that meet the high standards of the NIH are awarded federal grants – the organization offers grant funding only to those projects that make it into the top 10 percent of potential recipients. And because these grants are open to individuals residing beyond United States borders, this latest grant again seals a place for the researchers involved in this project at UND among the most talented in the world.
More important than the prestige that comes with earning these kinds of federal grants, however, is that these funds will help in the continued effort to increase the quality of life, and the overall length of life, for infected people.