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URA Archive
Scholars 2009 - 2010

Ryan Connor

Ryan Connor, Chemical Engineering
"Poor Drug Penetration into the CNS and its Impact on HIV-1 Pathogenesis: A Mathematical Model"
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mariajose Castellanos
Expected Graduation Date: May 2010


The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is responsible for approximately two million deaths each year and is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). An estimated 33 million people are infected and there are as many as 2.7 million new infections per year. With the advent of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, there has been much progress in the management of the disease; however, the emergence of drug resistant strains of the virus still poses a major challenge. It has been shown that not all anti-retroviral therapeutics are able to cross the blood-brain barrier effectively. This, coupled with the virus’ efficient crossing of the blood brain barrier, prompted studies to investigate the emergence drug-resistant strains of virus derived from the Central Nervous System (CNS). To this end, computer modeling of the HIV-1 infection using a two compartment model consisting of CNS located virus and systemic virus is being carried out. Additionally, in vitro studies are being conducted to investigate how therapeutic agents’ effectiveness correlates to their concentration and how their effects are added. It is expected that a clear correlation between CNS derived HIV-1 and the origin of drug resistant strains of HIV-1 will be seen.