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Therapeutic Development Core

Barbara Slusher 
Dr. Barbara Slusher, Core Director 

Therapeutic Development Core Mission:

The mission for the Therapeutics Core is to facilitate new adjunctive therapeutics development for the treatment of HIV-associated cognitive disorders. The Therapeutics Core will utilize techniques in neurobiology, medicinal chemistry, biopharmaceutics profiling, and pharmacokinetic analysis as a combinatorial approach to identify and develop these therapies. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remain very prevalent, even among HIV-infected individuals who have been treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy. Thus, there is an unmet medical need to develop adjunctive therapies to treat HAND. Our previous studies in the Therapeutics Development core of the JHU NIMH Center for Novel Therapeutics have demonstrated that neuroprotective and/or neuroregenerative small molecule regimens protect vulnerable hippocampal and cortical neurons from oxidative stress and HIV viral proteins in vitro and in vivo, and therefore, may provide such a treatment for HAND.

Goals and Objectives:

  • To use focused medium throughput screening, using in vitro models to identify novel compounds useful for treatment of HIV-associated cognitive dysfunction with the over-arching theme of reducing the sustained CNS inflammation that we believe underlies the development of HAND
  • To evaluate potential neuroprotective and neuroregenerative compounds in vivo
  • To facilitate preclinical development of potential neuroprotective/neuroregenerative therapeutic agents, identified internally and by external investigators.

Team Members

Barbara Slusher, Ph.D., M.A.S. (Director, Therapeutic Development Core)
Christine Zink, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Namandjé Bumpus, Ph.D.


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