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Grant for Gut Brain Research

The Campbell Foundation Gives Grant to Explore Gut Brain Research in HIV Patients

Is there a Connection between the Inflammation and Mental Decline in HIV Patients?

Many think there may certainly be a connections. A recent press release from the Campbell Foundation states that they have awarded a $77,495 grant to Cristina Granziera, MD, PhD. of Massachusetts General Hospital. The money will be used to study the gut-brain relationship in HIV-positive patients.

The Campbell Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding HIV/AIDS research,

 Dr. Granziera and her team intend to use magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography to see if HIV-positive patients with imbalanced, gut microbiomes, also known as dysbiosis, have higher brain inflammation than HIV-positive patients with normal gut microbiomes.

We’ve learned from research that the gut holds the key to much of our overall health and well-being. If there is an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut it can cause many problems which could include inflammation of the brain. This can lead to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.

Ken Rapkin, Foundation Executive Director says “The Campbell Foundation has a rich history of funding research that, not only focuses on finding a cure, but that has a positive impact on those living with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Granziera’s research into the gut-brain relationship fits into our overall mission and we are excited to be able to provide her with the funding to conduct her research into an area that is getting a lot of attention in the scientific community.”

 HAND describes problems relating to thinking, memory and mood. It’s often mild and goes unnoticed. Those who have it, battle with recollection of facts or memories, have difficulty learning new things, have feelings of sadness, or simply feel “fuzzy” in the head. Unfortunately, in some individuals it leads to increased neurocognitive disorders like dementia.

Dr. Granziera commented, “Although antiretroviral therapy has dramatically improved the lives of HIV-positive individuals, nearly half of those who achieve viral suppression continue to suffer from HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Demonstrating the existence of a pathological gut-brain relationship in HIV-infected patients may open new perspectives to diminish the pathological consequences of HIV infection on the brain through the modulation of composition of gut microbiota (i.e. with changes in diet, use of prebiotics, fecal microbiota transplantation etc.) or supplementation of microbiota products.”

Dr. Cristina Granziera graduated from University of Padova Medical School (Italy) and earned her PhD from University of Lausanne (Switzerland). She is assistant professor in Radiology at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The focus of her current research is the investigation of the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory and cerebrovascular diseases (multiple sclerosis, neuroHIV, migraine and stroke) using state-of-the art neuroimaging methods.

She is extremely interested in the combination of multiple MRI contrasts to achieve the highest sensitivity and specificity to brain tissue pathology, as well as in multi-modal approaches like MR-PET.

Her goal is to recommend new models of disease impact as well as innovative tools to study disease evolution, by using the combined information of neuroimaging data, biological and clinical markers of disease.

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