NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given Duke University a two-year, $3 million grant to identify genetic variants responsible for making some people with hemophilia immune to HIV infection.
The Center for Human Genome Variation at Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy will use the funding to resequence the genomes of 50 individuals with hemophilia in order to discover variants that are most likely to be associated with HIV resistance, Duke University said earlier this week.
Past research has shown that “a significant minority” of hemophilia patients who were exposed to HIV-infected blood in the 1970s and 1980s did not contract the disease, Duke said.
Previous studies have shown that these HIV-resistant individuals are 15 times more likely to carry a deletion in the HIV main co-receptor CCR5 than the general population, said David Goldstein, the institute’s director, in a statement.
However, Goldstein noted that known genetic variants explain only a small amount of the differences among individuals exposed to the HIV virus. “We think there are probably other, much rarer variants that also play a role,” he continued. “We just haven't had the right tools to find them, but now we do.”
The Duke researchers will resequence the genomes of 50 individuals who were treated with contaminated factor VIII concentrate between 1979 and 1984 but did not contract HIV.