Research-for-Cure Academy

Reena Rajasuriar

Nationality: Malaysia
Institution: University of Malaysia
Country of work: Malaysia

What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?

My personal encounters with HIV patients as a clinical pharmacist provided me with a ‘real world’ experience of the challenges they face. Over the years, I came to the realization that HIV was as much a social ‘disease’ as it was a medical condition. While we have made significant progress in tackling the medical ‘face’ of the disease but stigma and discrimination against PLWH is still rampant. HIV cure offers a real chance to address this problem and change the social implications of the disease.

What is your current area of research?

My research to date has focused on the immunopathogenesis of immune activation and its impact on immune recovery and age-associated comorbidities among people living with HIV. Recent evidence has suggested that a large proportion of latently infected cells in individuals on ART contain identical sequences and integration sites, consistent with clonal expansion. The driver for clonal expansion of infected cells is however unclear. We are currently exploring if antigen specific T cell expansion may favor cellular proliferation of latently infected cells in individuals living in low-middle income settings where levels of endemic infection and background inflammation are high.