The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite applications that explore new research on the potential role of exosomes in cell-to-cell communication relevant to the impact of exosomes on HIV transmission, innate or adaptive immune responses to HIV, or HIV pathogenesis. This FOA solicits early-stage, exploratory projects with little to no preliminary data. Please note, there are research topics that are NOT supported by this FOA such as projects that focus on HIV hijacking the exosome release pathway for viral egress.

Exosomes are small vesicles (30-100 nm) released from cells that were first described in the early 1980s. Since then, exosomes have been found to carry RNA, protein or lipid to a distant cell with the potential to change the phenotype of the recipient cell. The role of exosomes in cell-to-cell communication is an emerging area of biology that has been recognized as critical towards understanding regulation of the innate and adaptive immune response, cancer cell biology, and neurological disorders.
In the early to mid-2000’s, a large body of research focused on understanding how HIV hijacks the cellular exosome release pathway for viral egress. This avenue of research identified many virus-host interactions and identified viral egress pathways in T-cells and macrophages.
A current gap in our understanding is how exosomes carrying biologically active cargo may influence cell-to-cell communication relevant to HIV pathogenesis, the host response to HIV, and/or transmission of HIV. Studies looking at the function of exosomes in acute infection, or in chronic infection in individuals on fully suppressive antiretroviral regimens are encouraged.

The FOA is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-15-107.html.

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