Molecular Research into HIV sees new ground broken within the UCD School of Medicine

Dr Patrick Mallon and his colleagues have been doing ground breaking research into older people living with HIV through POPPY (Pharmacokinetic and Clinical Observations in People over Fifty), the largest study of its kind in Europe. 

Dr Patrick Mallon was in conversation with Marie Boran (BSc 02), a freelance science and technology journalist, Irish Science Writer of the Year 2018.

Dr Mallon is Professor of Microbial Diseases at UCD. He aims to work towards enhancing the collaboration between the HMRG and UCD Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases (CRID) with the goal of obtaining an "integrated host-pathogen capability for very strong translational research and in order to apply that level of knowledge and expertise towards trying to look at HIV cure”.

In his conversation with Marie Boran, Mallon discusses where his passion for pursuing game-changing research came from. In the late eighties and early nineties while he was studying Medicine he says that “HIV had just emerged and it was having a huge impact globally" He goes on to say that "It was the mix of HIV being a virus causing a disease but also resulting in so much stigma from a societal perspective that really captured my imagination."

Mallon’s research group – the HIV Molecular Research Group – is internationally recognised for its work on the POPPY study. This group is dedicated into the research of  long-term outcomes in those with HIV; they look at heart, bone and kidney disease, which occur more frequently longer-term in people with HIV. Dr Mallon's team investigates what is driving these diseases.

The Poppy study is the largest in Europe that is specifically looking at older people with HIV. In the UK alone there are 6 centres and in Dublin, where the study is entering it's 4th year there are nearly 2'000 recruits. 

Mallon and his team have also just completed research into the relationship between a commonly used HIV treatment called Abacavir and heart attacks. A decade ago, an association between people on Abacavir with a greater risk of heart disease was identified, however, Mallon’s research team have found that this risk was in fact reversible as it went away when people stopped taking the drug. They also found, similarily to the RSCI platelet research group, that it was related to problems around platelet function.

Dr Mallon is currently looking at doing a substantial amount of collaborative work with UCD Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases, in terms of future goals he says “I think marrying our host-pathogen research around HIV cure and longer-term clinical outcomes is really where we’re setting our ambition for the next five years within infectious research at UCD.” 

The College of Health and Agricultural Sciences congratulate Dr Mallon and his team on their ground breaking research and look forward to seeing what's to come in the future!