University of Nebraska Medical Center

Laboratory of Santhi Gorantla, PhD

Our laboratory has been involved in developing small animal models (rodent) for HIV research. The specificity of HIV-1 for human cells precludes virus infection in most mammalian species and limits the utility of small animal models for the studies of disease pathogenesis, therapy and vaccine development. To this end, a humanized mouse with long-term reconstitution of human functional lymphoid tissues was recently achieved by transplanting human hematopoietic stem cells into immunodeficient mice.

My research interests are to utilize the humanized mouse model to study:

  1. HIV vaccine strategies to induce protective immune responses and
  2. Immune-based therapeutics to enhance HIV immune responses

Critical evaluation of these various therapeutic approaches for the prevention of HIV infection is essential. The humanized mouse model offers a unique environment to test these approaches and provide a proof-of concept for human use. Visit the Translational Mouse Model Core Facility.


Humanized Mice as a Tool to Monitor of HIV Brain Reservoirs and Effects of Substance Abuse

PI: Gorantla, S.

Source: NIH/NIDA 5R33DA041018

Proposes to adapt a humanized mouse model to validate the role of astrocytes and microglia as HIV reservoir s in the brain. Use of the human IL-34-expressing mouse as a driver for enhanced development and engraftment of human neural progenitor cells into glial and innate human immune cells provides the potential for development of a functional model with which to study HIV reservoirs in the brain and the effect of drugs of abuse.

NanoART Manufacture, Delivery and Pharmacokinetics for Optimizing Drug Adherence

PI: H. Gendelman; Animal Core: S. Gorantla

Source: NIH/NIDA 5P01DA028555

This is an integrative cross approach translational and multi-investigator program grant seeking to develop nanoformulated antiretroviral drug therapy from the bench to the patient.

Role of pannexin-1 hemichannels in NeuroAIDS

PI: Gorantla, S.

Source: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Chronic HIV infection and Aging in NeuroAIDS (CHAIN) Center

MPI: S. Buch and H. Fox; Cell-Tissue-Animal Core Leader: S. Gorantla

Source: NIH/NIMH 3P30MH062261

This is a Center grant to provide Administrative and Core Support for scientists investigating NeuroAIDS.

PDGF-CC Mediated Reversal of Synaptodendritic Injury in HAND

PI: S. Buch; Co-I: S. Gorantla


The overarching goal of this application is to explore the role of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-CC in reversing synaptodendritic injury & the associated cognitive decline, both of which comprise the hallmark features of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Combinatorial in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo approaches are proposed to test the efficacy of PDGF-CC as a therapeutic agent.

Novel Kinase and Nanoformulated Protease Inhibitors for Eradication of CNS HIV-1

PI: H. Gelbard, University of Rochester; Co-I: S. Gorantla
NIH/NIMH 5R01 MH104147

This proposal is designed to develop a means to eradicate viral infection from its CNS reservoir. The overarching idea is to facilitate crystalline nano formulated antiretroviral drug entry into monocyte-macrophage within late and recycling endosomes by affecting/harnessing phagolysosomal fusion events through the new kinase inhibitor URMC-099. The research is divided equally amongst University of Nebraska and University of Rochester scientists experienced in virology, immunology, pharmacology and neuroscience to pool resources towards a functional HIV-1 cure.