Limited Competition for Renewal of the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium
Dianne Rausch, Ph.D.
Division of AIDS Research
This initiative aims to support the continuation of the National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium (NNTC). The NNTC maintains a research resource that supports studies on the pathogenesis of HIV-associated neurological dysfunction in the context of anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Two types of continuation applications would be solicited through a limited competition: 1) applications to support the clinical assessments and banking of HIV-positive brain tissues and fluids at the NNTC Clinical Sites; and 2) applications to support the associated database center referred to as the Data Coordinating Center (DCC). The NNTC Clinical Sites work cooperatively with the DCC to provide clinical data and specimen resources to research investigators. A limited competition is necessary to preserve the banking resource, including the accumulated biospecimens, and ensure that ongoing collection of specimens will be uninterrupted. It is anticipated that the NNTC would continue to expand the existing multi-site brain bank structure of the NNTC to incorporate distribution of resources located at national and international sites into the cohort-based functions of the consortium.
HIV-associated neurological dysfunction continues in the era of anti-retroviral therapy. The NNTC was first established in 1998 as a unique resource for NeuroAIDS investigators interested in conducting research on HIV-associated dysfunction of the central and peripheral nervous system (CNS and PNS). The NNTC cohort is comprised of late stage HIV-positive participants willing to participate in organ donation, most of whom use anti-retroviral therapy. Comprehensive neuromedical, neuropsychological, psychiatric and virological data are collected ante mortem, post mortem samples are collected and clinically annotated, and the associated research data sets are maintained in the repository. The NNTC also includes fluid, clinical and associated data from the multi-site observational study entitled, “CNS HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) which explored the changing presentation and persistence of HIV neurological complications in the context of anti-retroviral therapy from 2002-2015. The NNTC collection contains clinical data from over 4,700 individuals, including approximately 1,042 brains, thousands of plasma and cerebrospinal fluid samples, and additional organs and nerves of interest. To date, the NNTC has resulted in 804 scientific publications. This research resource ensures that the collection remains accessible to the scientific community.
The NNTC Clinical Sites are responsible for the following: 1) recruitment, clinical assessment and follow-up of the late-stage NNTC cohort; and 2) collection, maintenance and distribution of sample resources. The DCC works with the NNTC Clinical Sites to provide 1) management and database capabilities to ensure effective clinical and brain banking operations, and to serve as the data repository for the NNTC; 2) scientific expertise in biostatistics and HIV epidemiology to enable broad analysis of the NNTC clinical database; and 3) expansion capability to include distribution of specimens and data stored at other national and international sites to ensure that scientific investigators have access to central and peripheral nervous system specimens that are difficult to obtain from HIV-infected individuals across the lifespan.
This initiative aims to continue funding the NNTC as a critical resource for catalyzing high priority research in NeuroAIDS, including studies to understand the mechanisms of HIV neuropathogenesis, aging with long-term HIV disease and ART, and research towards a cure for HIV infection of the CNS.