Penn Center for AIDS Research

Viral / Molecular Core

Mission | Personnel | Services | Contact Info

HIV Cells McKenna
Infection of cells with HIV. The image shows a HOS cell with DNA labeled blue, cellular microtubules green, and the HIV matrix protein red. The image was generated by Phil McKenna and Frederic Bushman.

The Core provides comprehensive Viral and Molecular support to serve the needs of Penn/Wistar/CHOP investigators in the area of basic, translational and clinical HIV research. In addition to an offering of standard services, we are available to develop customized viral and molecular support services as needed in collaboration with CFAR investigators, training for new personnel, and Consultation, Training, and Mentoring as needed.

Virology Support Services include a virus repository stocked with wide range of primary, prototype and mutant virus strains; services for the isolation, phenotyping and genetic analysis of primary viruses from patient-derived tissues; HIV-1 p24 and SIV p27 Gag antigen quantification; an HIV-1 viral load assay suitable for research purposes that detects all virus clades, and a variety of related reagents, services, and consultative support.

Molecular Support Services include support for quantitative realtime PCR with an 7500FAST machine, optimized HIV and cellular primer/probe sets and reagents; support for primer design and analysis of custom targets; target quantification on a customized basis; and related services.

The core also offers Deep Sequencing Support using the Illumina platform and custom bioinformatics. This technology is suited to analyzing complex populations of HIV genomes or HIV integration sites. This Core service is offered by Dr. Frederic Bushman and laboratory members.

Single Genome Amplification Services include consultation and hands-on training for investigators who are interested in amplifying single templates of their pathogen (e.g., HIV/SIV, HCV, Plasmodium, bacteria) of interest without the risk of PCR artifacts. This core service is offered by Dr. Frederic Bibollet-Ruche and Dr. Beatrice Hahn.

Efforts towards Eradication and Cure require accurate assessment of the viral reservoir. Recent studies have demonstrated that a new and highly tractable measurement—Integrated Viral DNA Measurement—is highly correlated with traditional assays of inducible infectious reservoir size, and much better than PCR-based assays for other HIV intermediates. Developed by Dr. Una O'Doherty, through this assay is now available to CFAR investigators.