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Miriam Hospital Receives Renewal of NIH Grant for AIDS Clinical Trials Group

3/19/2014

Group has defined long-term treatment for HIV and performed research since 2000; will continue through 2020  


A $2.4 million grant renewal will support The Miriam Hospital’s continued efforts in research and new treatments for HIV and AIDS. The Miriam Hospital is the largest HIV/AIDS care provider in the state.

The ACTG is a global network of 60 research sites with its operations and laboratory center based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The ACTG conducts clinical trials in HIV-infected adults to test novel therapeutic interventions focused on HIV-associated inflammation and resulting end-organ disease, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and HIV cure.

Karen Tashima, MD, the lead researcher at The Miriam, received the National Institutes of Health grant renewal. Tashima leads the ACTG’s Providence site, which operates under the program’s Harvard/Boston/Providence Clinical Trials Unit. She says, “We are thrilled with the results that have come from the ACTG Network. The Miriam Hospital has been part of the Network since 2000. Our work has allowed us to foster new investigations and treatments for treating HIV and AIDS.”

Tashima says, “The ACTG is an important HIV clinical studies network that, for example, proved that mother to child transmission could be dramatically reduced by having the pregnant woman take the anti-HIV medication AZT. Results of other ACTG studies have changed how we treat HIV infection, and have resulted in Department of Health and Human Services HIV guideline changes leading to improvements nationally in the standard of care for HIV treatment.”

Dr. Tashima was the lead investigator and study chair for the OPTIONS trial that was conducted at 64 sites across the continental U.S. and in Puerto Rico. The OPTIONS trial was a multi-site study that showed patients with drug-resistant HIV can safely achieve viral suppression – the primary goal of HIV therapy without incorporating the traditional class of HIV medications into their treatment regimen. The ACTG trial showed for the first time that treatment-experienced patients can leave out this class of medication, known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI), as part of the regimen. Treatment-experienced patients already need to take three active medications in order to achieve viral suppression, so eliminating NRTI medications can lessen pill burden and side effects.

The Miriam Hospital is the largest care provider in Rhode Island, treating more than 1,500 patients with HIV who are under ongoing care. These patients have access to the latest treatments in HIV through our studies at The Immunology Center. Tashima says that she and other researchers in the ACTG look forward to more promising results coming from the research afforded by the grant renewal, which will allow The Miriam to continue to serve as an ACTG clinical research site for the 2014-2020 time period.