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Jesse Kwiek, PhD

Award Name Laser Capture Microdissection Grant
Award Date 05/01/2010

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Mother to Child Transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1)

The Ohio State Center for Clinical and Transitional Science awarded Jesse Kwiek, PhD, with a Laser Capture Microdissection grant, which provided Kwiek with access to the LCM facility and resources to conduct his research. The purpose of his research is to understand the mechanism of mother to child transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1).

In many parts of the world, as much as 20-30 percent of all pregnant women are HIV infected. In the absence of treatment, mothers will transmit HIV-1 to their infant approximately 30 percent of the time. Mother to child transmission of HIV-1 can happen in 3 ways: during the pregnancy, during the process of labor and through breast-feeding. However, what is unknown is the mechanism or how the virus actually passes from mother to child.

Kwiek’s lab is interested in viral determinants and is looking at the genomes of HIV-1 isolated from pregnant mothers who transfer HIV-1 to their infants, as well as those who do not.

“I want to know if there is something unique and shared amongst HIV-1 that is transmitted from mother to child,” Kwiek said.

Kwiek looked at HIV isolated from the placenta tissue to see if it had any unique characteristics. Using laser capture microdissection, Kwiek analyzed whether the placenta actively prevents mother to child transmission of HIV and if the type of HIV isolated in the placenta is different than the HIV in the mother or the baby.

The goal of Kwiek’s research is to develop an intervention to block HIV’s ability to replicate in the placenta and ultimately block mother to child transmission before labor and delivery.

“We study a facet of HIV that affects those primarily in sub Saharan Africa,” Kwiek said. “I hope this research leads to a cost effective, widely available intervention to block HIV transmission so that those in the rest of the world can successfully block HIV transmission as effectively as we do in the United States.”

By Charaun Little, Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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