Dr. Joseph Calvin Kouokam awarded NIH faculty diversity supplement grant

Dr. Joseph Calvin Kouokam, Instructor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has received an NIH faculty diversity supplement grant to carry out research under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Palmer, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Executive Director of the Owensboro Cancer Research Program.  In his NIH grant, Dr. Kouokam will study Griffithsin (GRFT), a sugar binding protein with pronounced antiviral activities against multiple enveloped viruses, including HIV. His project will evaluate whether GRFT is effective and safe for use as microbicide in patients with colorectal pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer.

IBD are chronic relapsing inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and mainly include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. They affect about four million people worldwide mostly in North America and Europe. As a faculty diversity supplement to the 1U19AI113182 project evaluating “Griffithsin-based rectal microbicides for the prevention of viral entry (PREVENT)”, led by Professor Kenneth Palmer, Dr, Kouokam will assess the safety and efficacy of plant produced Griffithsin (GRFT) in the context of IBD.

One of the primary goals of the proposed study is to assess the inhibitory effects of GRFT on HSV-2 in mice with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis. A mouse model of IBD-associated colorectal cancer (using azoxymethane) will be assessed as well. The findings will provide a proof of concept for GRFT efficacy in preventing HIV in the context of colorectal pathologies. In addition, Dr. Kouokam will carry out comprehensive safety studies of GRFT in the context of IBD, both in vitro and in vivo. The findings will provide valuable information regarding the potential use of GRFT in IDB patients and further advocate its development as a microbicide with broad application against enveloped viruses.