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Emory Wins $3.3M Award to Search Human, Simian Genomes for HIV Clues

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers at Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center have received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to try to identify genes that are involved in HIV transmission and those that may help protect against HIV infection, Emory said on Friday.

The investigators will use resources at the Yerkes' Nonhuman Primate Genomics Core (GenCore) to conduct next-generation sequencing-based research seeking to identify genes that lead to the disease in humans and genes in certain monkey types that protect them from simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). SIV leads to AIDS-like disease in rhesus macaques and in people, but some African monkey species are able to remain disease-free after being infected with the virus.

"We hope to find differences in gene regulation between models of infection that develop AIDS compared to those that are resistant to disease," Steven Bosinger, co-director of the GenCore facility and a co-investigator on the project, said in a statement.

The investigators also hope to discover genes that are driving disease in HIV-infected patients who are on medication, Bosinger said.

"Current HIV medications suppress the virus, but don't treat the residual inflammation that causes disease," he said. "Studying multiple species helps narrow down which genes are responsible for the disease process, rather than simply being different due to interspecies variation. With this information, we want to identify potential targets for developing therapy to treat residual HIV disease directly."

The GenCore lab hosts an Illumina HiSeq 1000 System, an Affymetrix GeneChip platform, and an Agilent Bioanalyzer, and it offers next-generation sequencing, RNAseq services, targeted resequencing, ChIP-seq, and miRNA sequencing.

Ongoing projects at the lab include gene expression profiling studies of several pre-clinical HIV vaccine candidates, transcriptomic analysis of multiple primate malaria species, targeted sequencing of multiple genomic regions, and comparative miRNA analysis efforts.