As the founder and Medical Director of Let there Be Hope, a 501 c 3 nonprofit foundation for medical research, and Augustus BioTarget, Inc., Dr. Michael J. Scolaro has for many years inspired and facilitated multidisciplinary research projects deriving from his clinical practice and personal research in targeting technology. He received his medical degree from Boston University in 1959 and built a practice in neuropsychiatry after residency at St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center in New York. In the 1970s, he joined the faculty at the University of Southern California, and affiliated with St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, where he founded the first Medicare approved Pain Management Clinic in the USA.
As early as 1981, patients afflicted with AIDS neuropathies sought Dr. Scolaro’s help in the Pain Management Clinic at St. Vincent Hospital, and with concern for their overwhelming medical needs – and growing numbers – he changed the focus of his practice from neuropsychiatry to medicine, specializing in the treatment of patients with HIV and AIDS. Soon Dr. Scolaro became an important clinician in the treatment of this disease. He was a pioneer in establishing an AIDS Coordinating Group and Commission to tackle the problem in LA, and played a central role in clinical care and research related to AIDS.
In 1986, before any antiviral drugs were available, Dr. Scolaro launched the first FDA physician sponsored antiviral clinical research protocol, involving the combined use of an antiviral compound in conjunction with an immune modulator. From 1987 to 1994 he was the Director of AIDS Research at the Los Angeles Oncologic Institute, St. Vincent Medical Center. During that time his clinical research included the “Efficacy of Liposomal Encapsulated Daunorubicin (VS103) in Epidemic Kaposi’s Sarcoma of AIDS,” “Pulmonary Aspergillosis in the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome,” “Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis B in AIDS with Intron A,” “Convergent Combination Therapy: AZT, DDC, and Foscarnet in the Inhibition of HIV1 In Vivo,” and “A Multicenter Study of Oral Versus Intravenous Hydration to AIDS Patients with CMV Retinitis Treated with Foscavir.”
Dr. Scolaro began a research collaboration on liposomal targeted drug delivery with research scientists Dr. Sean M. Sullivan, Ph.D., Dr. Robert K. Gieseler, PhD., and Peyman Javaherbin, M.S. in 1989-1990. Subsequently, with Dr. Gieseler and colleagues at the University of Göttingen, Drs. Scolaro and Sullivan published a study on inhibiting HIV-1 proliferation using liposome encapsulated sense DNA in 1992: “Inhibition of HIV-1 Proliferation by Liposome Encapsulated Sense DNA to the 5’ tat Splice Acceptor Site” (Antisense Research and Development, vol. 2). This research provided the groundwork for the focus on targeted delivery of therapeutics begun at the 501 c 3 nonprofit foundation Let There Be Hope, and subsequently developed at Rodos BioTarget GmbH in Hannover, Germany (www.biotargeting.eu) Establishing his own clinical practice while also a Director of the Los Angeles Oncologic Institute at St. Vincent, Dr. Scolaro then founded the AntiViral Research Institute in 1993, later changed to Let there Be Hope Medical Research Foundation, as a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to generating targeted treatments for people with HIV/AIDS and allied disorders. The earlier focus on antiviral drug treatments later expanded into multidisciplinary team explorations focused on targeted drug delivery with the invention of the CLR-TargoSphere® drug delivery technology.