CHAVI announces international search for genes affecting HIV response

DURHAM, N.C. -- A pioneering collaboration among U.S., European and Australian researchers announced June 20, 2006, will seek to identify genetic differences in the way people respond to HIV.

Through the new consortium, led by scientists at Duke University, investigators who once competed to unravel the mysteries of HIV will share access to patient groups, called cohorts, they have studied.

Support for the consortium is provided by the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), established at Duke in 2005 with a grant that could total as much as $300 million over seven years from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. CHAVI's initial mission is to find out what the immune system does during HIV infection -- including in the rare individuals who control the infection on their own -- and try to produce a vaccine to mimic those responses.

"We intend to use natural genetic differences among people to point the way toward the most promising avenues for vaccine development," said David Goldstein, Ph.D., director of the Center for Population Genomics and Pharmacogenetics at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and director of CHAVI's host genetics research core. "We want to find out why some people naturally hold the virus down to almost undetectable levels while others lose control of it quickly."

The newly organized group, called EuroCHAVI, will recruit 600 patients from nine cohorts. "This will be is the largest cohort assembled for large-scale analysis of genetic differences among HIV-infected patients," said Amalio Telenti, M.D., Ph.D., a key organizer of the collaboration. Telenti is professor of medical virology and co-director of the Institute of Microbiology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

EuroCHAVI aims to quickly identify common genes -- wherever they are in the human genome -- that affect how the body responds to HIV. "Because of the willingness of researchers throughou

Contact: Becky Oskin
Duke University Medical Center

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