Institution: Marmara University School of Medicine
Country of work: Turkey
What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?
Current combination antiretroviral therapy is quite effective in suppressing HIV replication and halting disease progression. But almost all of my patients ask at one point whether they will ever be able to get rid of HIV completely from their bodies and stop taking drugs. My answer to them is that cure may be possible one day. With all the basic scientific knowledge accumulated on molecular virology and immunology of HIV, we should be able to devise a strategy to completely eradicate HIV from body or to keep it under control without daily drug intake.
What is your current area of research?
Antiretroviral treatment (ART) effectively reduces morbidity and mortality caused by HIV. One of the major obstacles to the success of ART is the emergence of drug-resistant strains. World Health Organization recommends surveillance of HIV drug resistance mutations (DRMs) in patients with primary infection to follow trends in emergence and spread of drug-resistant mutants. We have completed a project on surveillance of DRMs using ultra-deep pyrosequencing in our center. We are also part of the HIV-TR cohort initiative, collecting data from several centers in Turkey, in which I chair the HIV drug resistance subcommittee.