While it may now be a new diet phenomenon according to a June Reuters article, Five On Two Off (or FOTO) actually peeked its head as one answer to the complications of taking AIDS meds so frequently.
“The weekends off felt like a good thing to identify in research since the patients wanted it, the drugs looked like they could handle it, and ultimately it might flex what we can do in terms of the comfort of treatment,” says Dr. Calvin Cohen. He’s the director of research at Boston’s Community Research Initiative (CRI). CRI did its research with partners across the country (including Miami’s Care Resource) to look into the possible drug “forgiveness” they were trying to eschew. And it worked.
And all of that research couldn’t have happened without a grant from Fort Lauderdale’s own Campbell Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to funding research that can have a real effect on AIDS patients (specifically within five to seven years).
Ken Rapkin, program officer at Campbell, told SFGN that FOTO had an immense effect by showing researchers across the globe that constant medication isn’t always the answer.
“The whole notion and the wisdom of the time said you could never go off medication or you might die,” he said. “It was pretty groundbreaking. It was a huge feather in the cone for everyone.”
But Campbell Foundation has done much more than fund FOTO. The organization is named after Richard Campbell Zahn, the chemist who brought you Herpecin-L lip balm. He incorporated Campbell Labs to sell the balm. But something was bothering him.
“He was so mad when he was alive that the government was ignoring AIDS,” said Bill Venuti, now the trustee at Campbell. Venuti explained that Campbell had set aside money in 1986 for the very foundation that acts today, but the money couldn’t be touched until the chemist passed in 1995 from AIDS complications. “When he died, we knew we had to fund these scientists. It’s not sexy, but somebody has to start on those basic ideas. The parades are fun, but that’s more applicable when you’re able to do that — we have to stick to the donor’s vision.”
And so, the foundation stepped up to the plate. Since 1995, the foundation has funded 126 sets of studies around the world. Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA), for, example, ranked Campbell in the top 20th percentile for private philanthropic groups that focus on AIDS. The 25-year-old FCAA aims to “mobilize” philanthropic groups like Campbell by initiating them into action (and ranking them).
“We’ve given away over $9 million — to ideas that no one wanted to be a part of,” Ken Rapking told SFGN. “Women’s studies, children’s studies. Many times the government was too afraid to touch the more risky medications.”
Past grantee Alan Landay said that Campbell is necessary to support research that will dry up otherwise.
“ the important seed funding … for ideas that will not be funded by the larger agencies,” said the chair of the department of immunology and microbiology at Chicago’s Rush University.
And from Poverello to Broward House to Tuesday’s Angels, Campbell also sends funds to local organizations. Almost $2 million was given to organizations supplying direct services.
“Young researchers are leaving the field. Everyone’s fighting over the same federal bone,“ Rapking said. “A lot of the stuff we fund does go on to get federal funding. We’re very ‘ground floor.’”
For example, in 2012, a group in Israel working for Ben Gurion University invented a technology that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Originally for Parkinson’s, the team wanted to find a way to get HIV meds in there, too. Campbell gave them over $86,000. Getting past the barrier allowed the team to find a way to send micro-medicine (put simply) directly into the brain (for more, check out this article from the Jerusalem Post).
“No drug company would have touched that,” Rapking said. “This is something that can change the make-up of drug delivery forever. We fund scientific curiosity”
amfAR gets some cash and hits gold
In 2011, Campbell Foundation gave $50,000 to amfAR’s ARCHE program. This is the email that AmFAR sent Campbell when the organization had some success with ARCHE:
Dear Mr. Rapkin,
I am thrilled to share some exciting breaking news today in the search for a cure for HIV/AIDS. Dr. Timothy Henrich, an amfAR grantee, has two patients who may have been cured of HIV.
Dr. Henrich’s patients had been on long-term antiretroviral therapy for HIV when they developed lymphoma. To treat the cancer and possibly cure their HIV, they underwent risky stem-cell transplants. This treatment was similar to the one given to the “Berlin Patient,” Timothy Brown, who was the first man cured of HIV. Brown’s stem-cell donors had a genetic mutation called “CCR5 delta32” that renders a person virtually resistant to HIV infection. However, these new cases differ significantly from Brown’s: their donor cells lacked this mutation, and were therefore not resistant to HIV. Since the transplants, Dr. Henrich has been unable to find any evidence of HIV infection in his patients.
While stem-cell transplants cannot be widely used as a cure for the 34 million people living with HIV, this development is an important step that could lead to a new pathway to a cure. Further details on these cases and their implications are on amfAR’s website, as well as in today’s New York Times article on the patients.
We are so grateful for the Campbell Foundation’s support of ARCHE, which helped make this study possible.
All the best,Carolyn Hanson
Manager, Institutional Giving
So What Exactly does Campbell Fund?
Here are some examples of what Campbell’s funded with almost $9 million since 1995.