Georgia State professor’s program receives $1.48 million grant for HIV/AIDS research

Without the right drugs, HIV/AIDS patients are going blind and a Georgia State professor’s research program is looking into the causes.

The National Institute of Health granted $1.48 million to Georgia State biology professor Dr. Richard Dix for his research program investigating vision loss and blindness in HIV/AIDS patients on July 17, according to a Georgia State press release.

Dix said the new grant is an extension of several other past grants studying the development of AIDS-related cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis. CMV is a DNA virus that can cause vision loss, according to Medscape.

“The goal of the research is to determine the various mechanisms by which the virus causes destruction of the retinal tissues and thereby cause vision loss and blindness,” Dix said.

Dix said without Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) up to 40% of AIDS patients will develop cytomegalovirus retinitis. CART, is a compound of drugs to keep the HIV infection under control, according to About Health.

“The Foundation for AIDS Research recently estimated that only 37% of HIV-infected persons worldwide have access to cART, so AIDS-related CMV retinitis remains a significant ophthalmologic problem worldwide,” Dix said.

He also said the funding will be used for laboratory supplies, hiring other researchers and creating a postdoctoral Georgia State fellowship to help with the research.

“The grant application was reviewed by a study section of the National Eye Institute (NEI),” Dix said. “The NEI ultimately decided on the amount of funding and the number of years of funding.”

Georgia State biology student Priyanka Parekh said she’d also be interested in conducting research that could potentially save lives.

“Not only do people severely suffer with HIV/AIDS but so do their loved ones. So finding the cause for AIDS-related cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis would be immensely beneficial,” Parekh said.