Kenyan Among Team bringing HIV cure closer to the homestretch.
Then just a graduate with a degree in chemistry, Benson left the country in 2009 to further his studies in the USA. Ten years later, his skills have allowed him to join a group of niche scientists who collectively try to move the world towards the hope of an HIV cure.
Professor Benson Adagwa, 37, is a young man with a brain that shelves rare fascinating ideas that prove that the cure for HIV is right at the horizons.
He finished his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Moi university after which he competently did his masters program. Later he flew 35,000 feet above the sea level to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where he did his PhD.
Using a physiochemical scheme that alters the properties of the drug dolutegravir, UNMC scientists took the modified drug and placed it into nanocrystals. The produced drug crystals easily distributed throughout the body to tissue reservoirs of HIV infection.
The advanced drug scheme extended the life of the drug and its entry into “hidden body compartments,” from the muscle site of injection while increasing its action in reducing viral growth. The tissues included the lymph nodes, the bone marrow, the intestine and the spleen.
The modified drug crystals were not toxic, did not break apart with temperature changes and were stable for months of time. All organs and bodily functions remained intact after treatment.
Coated with parts of fat, the crystals efficiently maneuvered through cell protective membranes and were stored inside cells for weeks, said Howard Gendelman, M.D., professor and chair, who with Benson Edagwa, Ph.D., assistant professor, co-led the study in UNMC’s Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience (PEN).
Professor Adagwa wife is to be shown gratitude for encouraging him to actively pursue his idea to the end. The idea rotates around gene-editing technology (CRISPR) and Laser art as an attempt to erase HIV DNA from the genes of the 29 mice.
Professor Adagwa erudite skills are noticeable from the 30 published biomedical papers in peer-reviewed journals, which he assumed the role of a principal author or major contributor.
“For me, the driving force behind my focus on finding a treatment for HIV is personal. I’ve lost friends and family to the disease, and my country, Kenya, is still reeling from the disease,” Professor Adagwa revealed.
Three weeks ago, a journal dubbed Nature communication recounted that professor Adagwa together with a team of researchers had successfully removed HIV from a mouse, this points on the reality that a cure for HIV is nearing the homestretch.
Despite her senior dismissing his idea as impossible, this didn’t stop him from pursuing it to the end.
Professor Adagwa had plans of coming up with a drug that would outdo standard ARVs by penetrating hard-to-reach areas like the brain and lymph nodes. He believed this could effectively eliminate the virus from the body.
“By reaching these reservoirs, we have demonstrated that HIV is a curable disease. What we had in the past were prevention and treatment strategies,” he said.