Dr Fahmida Shaik

Dr Fahmida Shaik is currently funded under the SAMRC Clinician Researcher M.D. PhD Scholarship Development Programme. Her study topic is related to diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in African patients with HIV associated Kaposi’s sarcoma. Fahmida provides the following background to this topical study:

In sub-Saharan Africa, Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is the commonest malignancy associated with HIV and in resource limited settings the outcome of this condition remains poor. In KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, KS burden increased dramatically with the AIDS epidemic, and KS remains an important public health problem. Biomarkers studies are needed for improved diagnosis, prognostication, and evaluation of disease pathophysiology.

Having previously identified clinical and therapeutic management of HIV related Kaposi’s sarcoma in a prospective randomised control trial (KAART study), the proposed study will analyse the banked bio-specimens and clinical data to identify underlying risk factors associated with KS disease progression. This is a unique cohort of 112 patients, with HIV-associated KS, whose baseline characteristics, treatment, clinical outcomes and quality of life data will be extracted from the study’s electronic data base and patient’s clinical records.

Associations between biomarkers; viral biomarkers (KSHV seroreactivity and viral load) and immune biomarkers (haemoglobin, albumin, sodium, 27 inflammatory cytokine/ chemokine and growth factor assays) and clinical outcomes will be evaluated. We hypothesize that select biomarkers associated with HIV-associated Kaposi sarcoma and Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV) infection may help diagnose life threatening inflammatory manifestations and provide useful prognostic information beyond the current staging criteria.

This project is an ideal combination of clinical and laboratory-based research that will contribute towards bench to bedside translation and will pave the way for future research in the field of KSHV associated malignancies.