Geneticists using thousands of samples and supercomputers have, for the first time, created a map of HIV resistance.
Research teams at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Vaud University Hospital Centre (UNIL-CHUV) have retracted the journey of HIV resistance and believe that effective individual treatments could be locked in our own genes.
The study used samples from 1,071 HIV-positive individuals, from there they were able to discern 3,000 possible mutations within HIV’s genome – they then used a super-computer to test these mutations against the six million variations in the patients genomes. Work that without a super-computer would be impossible.
Jacques Fellay, co-author of the paper, and EPFL researcher, said “the human immune system is constantly developing strategies to fight HIV but unfortunately, the genome of the virus also changes rapidly, at a rate of millions of mutations a day.”
“We now have a true database that tells us which human genetic variation will induce which kind of mutation in the virus”, explains Amalio Telenti, co-author and UNIL-CHUV researcher.
This breakthrough work will allow researchers to use the findings to better understand how HIV works, how it attacks the human immune system and how we can create better treatments.
New, more effective, treatments could possibly be targeted to patients who have a certain genetic make up – as is currently the case with certain cancers.
The paper is published in the journal eLife.