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Baylor to Use $3M Grant to Launch Genomics Network, HIV/TB Study with Partners in Africa

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine have received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to collaborate with partners in Africa to study genetic factors involved in tuberculosis and HIV.

The investigators from the Baylor International Pediatric Aids Initiative (BIPAI) at Texas Children's Hospital and its partners in Botswana and Uganda will use the three-year grant to establish the Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGen), BCM said yesterday.

The genomics resources and expertise for the project will come primarily from Baylor, but Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Botswana also will supply local molecular genetics resources.

The patients will be recruited through the Botswana-Baylor Children's Centre of Excellence and the Baylor-Uganda Children's Clinical Center of Excellence.

The partners plan to use genomic technologies to investigate a rare group of HIV-infected children who can control the infection for years without using anti-retroviral dugs to prevent AIDS, and it will examine a group of HIV-positive children who are infected with tuberculosis to find new genes linked to disease progression.

The ultimate aim of these studies will be to develop better diagnostics and treatments for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

"Most of the previous genetic studies in HIV were undertaken in undertaken in non-African, adult populations," Gabriel Anabwani, executive director of the Botswana-Baylor Children's Centre of Excellence and the lead investigator on the grant, said in a statement. "There is a great need to study the genetic factors of progression in children; their disease differs considerably from their adult counterparts and they potentially have more to gain from therapeutic advances."

Baylor said the funding also will be used to establish core genomics facilities in Botswana and Uganda. Trainees from those institutions will work with core labs at BCM, including the Human Genome Sequencing Center, the Laboratory for Translational Genomics in the Children's Nutrition Research Center, and the Center for Statistical Genetics.

These core facilities will provide sample processing and storage, candidate gene re-sequencing, HLA allelotyping, and whole exome sequencing, as well as genomic analyses of active TB progression and associated clinical outcomes using expression quantitative trait loci.