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NIH To Award $2M To Study Genetic Variations Linked to HIV Susceptibility and Drug Abuse

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health is seeking proposals for research projects that will study genetic variations linked to susceptibility for HIV-1 infection and AIDS progression among drug-abusing populations, according to a request for applications NIH issued on Friday.
According to the RFA, available here, the National Institute on Drug Abuse plans to disburse up to $2 million between four and seven projects that will study how genetic factors may provide “protection from or vulnerability to infection, and how drugs of abuse, medications for drug addiction, and HIV-1 treatment interact with both host and viral genes.”
NIH said it will also support research into the effects of viral mutations and recombination associated with drug abuse on host responses to infection, as well as the pharmacogenetics of interactions among HIV-1 treatment medications and either drugs of abuse or therapies used in the treatment of drug addiction. 
“The importance of biological and genetic differences between individuals, in addition to specific patterns of substance abuse, in explaining differential susceptibility to HIV-1 infection, differences in disease outcome, and differences in response to [antiretroviral and anti-infective drugs] is largely unknown,” NIH said in the RFA.
“A more complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which genetic variations provide protection from or vulnerability to infection and disease progression, and how drugs of abuse and medications for drug addiction interact with both host and viral genes is needed.”
NIH said it plans to support research involving individuals chronically using addictive substances, or use of appropriate in vitro or in vivo models, “to shed light on our understanding of the role of genetic variation within genes involved in modulating immune function, or genes that are highly expressed in monocyte derived dendritic cells, mucosal cells, or other cells/tissues that may alter an individual’s susceptibility to HIV-1 infection.”
NIH also plans to study whether drugs of abuse such as methamphetamine interact with host or viral genetic factors to either increase HIV-1 susceptibility or diminish the host’s ability to internalize pathogens and subsequently activate T cells. 
Letters of intent are due Feb. 27 and applications are due March 27.

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