Advertisement covers The 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2011)

Could MicroRNA Be the Next Great Frontier in HIV/AIDS Treatment -- and Prevention?

February 28, 2011

The video below has been cross-posted on with permission from our partners at the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS (IFARA). Visit IFARA's blog to watch more video interviews from the conference.

If you're looking for a sign that this year's Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections will slant heavily toward the renewed push to find innovative treatments for HIV infection -- as well as new pathways toward finding a cure -- you need look no further than the opening lecture.

A (relatively) recently discovered form of regulatory RNA dubbed microRNA (miRNA for short) has been found to play a critical role in some viral infections (particularly hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr virus), and there are tantalizing signs that our increasing understanding of miRNA may carve an exciting new niche in HIV care. In fact, early research suggests it has potential not just in the exploration of new, effective forms of HIV treatment, but perhaps in HIV prevention as well -- a possibility that has some surreptitiously uttering the word "cure" in the same breath as miRNA, though it's important to note we are many years of challenging research away from even having an idea whether miRNA can move us meaningfully in the direction of discovering a cure for HIV.

In the 16th Bernard Fields Lecture at the opening of CROI 2011, Bryan Cullen, Ph.D., from the Duke University Medical Center, reviewed our knowledge to date about miRNA and discussed its potential application in HIV. Prior to his talk, Cullen sat down with Fred Schaich of the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS to break down the basics. Here's the interview (video by Jim Thompson):

You can also watch an archived Webcast of Cullen's CROI 2011 talk on the conference's official Web site.

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