Meet the CIPHER grantees

Louis-Marie Yindom

Year awarded: 2016
Institution: The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford, UK
Research site: Biomedical Research and Training Institute, Harare, Zimbabwe
Primary mentor: Rashida Ferrand, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Louis-Marie Yindom is from Cameroon and works in the fields of immunology and genetics of infectious diseases, focusing on host-pathogen interactions with special interest in paediatric and adolescent HIV/AIDS.

More information on Louis-Marie | Email

“This grant has offered me the opportunity to start a career as an independent researcher in the field of HIV immunogenetics while contributing to the capacity building of young/aspiring future researchers in Harare, Zimbabwe.”

Research project: HIV associated chronic lung disease (CLD) in older children and adolescents living with perinatally acquired HIV: studies of aetiology and predictive biomarkers

The issue

Long-standing vertically acquired HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is commonly associated with non-infectious complications with the most debilitating being chronic lung disease (CLD). More than a third of children living with HIV (CLWHIV) over 10 years in HIV care in SSA have CLD, which is frequently misdiagnosed and treated as pulmonary tuberculosis. Lung function abnormalities documented in older CLWHIV in southern Africa show no associations with either treatment status or duration of ART, suggesting that once established, this form of CLD does not respond to ART. Currently there is no specific treatments available for CLWHIV with CLD.

The CIPHER project

This study hypothesises that HIV-associated CLD is driven by generalized systemic inflammation that affects the small airways, and can be predicted using specific plasma biomarkers. Specifically, it will investigate the hypothesis that immune activation in children with longstanding perinatally acquired HIV infection (PHIV) is exacerbated by reactivation of the persistent herpes virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Dr Yindom’s research project proposes that inadequate control of CMV infection in PHIV leads to frequent episodes of CMV reactivation and contributes to the development of HIV-associated CLD through systemic immune activation that directly affects lung function. Preliminary data from a pilot study in Harare show that CMV DNA can be detected in 32% of children with PHIV.

The impact

Data is still being collected. However, Dr Yindom intends that his research will identify plasma biomarkers of systemic inflammation that most directly correlate with and/or predict HIV-associated CLD, and could be used in future to identify children at risk of CLD. He also aims to investigate the potential role of CMV reactivation in driving the underlying systemic inflammation in children with PHIV.