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NIH to Fund NeuroAIDS Genetics

This article has been updated to correct the total amount of funding available through the grant programs.

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health wants to uncover any genetics-based explanations for some neurocognitive disorders that are caused by HIV and which do not respond to a commonly-used therapy.

The National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and the National Institute of Mental Health will support research to study viral and host genetic factors involved in HIV-1 Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND), specifically when highly active anti-retroviral therapies (HAART) are being used.

The initiative aims to fund studies of the interactions between the virus, the host, and therapeutic drugs in the central nervous system that can lead to pathogenesis, progression, and clinical manifestations of HAND, NIH said in two new requests for applications.

NIMH will grant a total of up to $2 million and NINDS a total of up to $1 million next year to fund five to seven R01 awards and R21 awards.

The research initiatives can use a range of approaches to study the genetic factors influencing HAND, including whole genome association studies, next-generation sequencing, exome sequencing and systems biology in human samples, and in vitro and animal models.

“There is a great opportunity now for the NeuroAIDS field to utilize state-of-the-art advanced genomic technologies and systems biology approaches to address questions relating to viral and host contribution to HIV neuropathogenesis,” NIH said in the funding announcement.

Examples of the types of research the grants may fund include, but are not limited to: studying viral sequences to find if they are associated with neurovirulence or neurotropism; correlating molecular changes of HIV-1 strains derived from demented and non-demented individuals and assessing the associated impact on function; conducting viral genetic studies relating to the establishment and maintenance of CNS reservoirs; assessing the molecular diversity of various HIV-1 genes and the functional consequences in CNS, and a range of others.

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