Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

HIV -- Geneticists map human resistance to AIDS

29.10.2013
Do our genes hold the key to future AIDS therapies? Using a supercomputer, scientists analyzed the genomes of thousands of strains of the HIV virus and have produced the first map of human AIDS resistance

The key to future HIV treatment could be hidden right in our own genes. Everyone who becomes infected deploys defense strategies, and some even manage to hold the virus at bay without any therapy at all. This immune system struggle leaves its mark within the pathogen itself – genetic mutations that indicate how the virus reacted to its host's attacks.

Scientists from EPFL and the Vaud university hospital center (UNIL-CHUV) retraced the entire chain of events in these battles, from the genome of the virus to the genome of the victim. They have created the first map of human HIV resistance. The goal of their research, which has been published in the journal eLife on the 29th of October, is to find new therapeutic targets and to enable individualized treatment strategies.

The human immune system is constantly developing strategies to fight HIV. Unfortunately, "the genome of the virus also changes rapidly, at a rate of millions of mutations a day," explains Jacques Fellay, co-author and EPFL researcher. In the majority of cases, the pathogen finds an effective strategy via this natural selection.

Sometimes the virus is faced with a tougher opponent. It resists, but its ability to replicate is compromised. "The virus survives but replicates more slowly, and thus its capacity for destruction is in some sense neutralized," says the scientist.

By studying strains of HIV that have been living in human hosts, the researchers can identify specific genetic mutations. These are like scars that each bear witness to a very specific attack launched by the immune system. What are the human genes involved in these defense strategies? And which, among all our genetic variations, predispose us to increased HIV resistance or, on the contrary, increased vulnerability? The scientists developed a method that allowed them to find answers to these questions.

A supercomputer, 1,071 patients and millions of combinations

To draw up the first map of human HIV resistance, the researchers had to analyze an enormous amount of data. They studied various strains of HIV from 1,071 seropositive individuals. They crossed more than 3,000 potential mutations in the viral genome with more than 6 million variations in the patients' genomes. Using supercomputers, they studied all these possible combinations and identified correspondence between patients.

"We had to study the virus before the patient had undergone treatment, which is far from easy," says Fellay. This meant they had to search in data banks established in the 1980s, before effective therapies were made available.

This novel, indirect method made it possible to obtain the most complete global overview to date of human genes and their implications in terms of HIV resistance. It allows us to not only better understand how we defend ourselves from attack but also how the virus adapts itself to our defense mechanisms. "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.

Therapies inspired by our own natural defense

This research has two major implications. New therapies could be developed based on studying humans' natural defenses, particularly those that result in a reduced replication of the virus. In addition, the scientists hope that by profiling the genome of HIV-infected individuals, it will be possible to develop individually targeted treatments that take into account the patients' genetic strengths and weaknesses.

Jacques Fellay | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.epfl.ch

Further reports about: EPFL Geneticists HIV genetic mutation genetic variation immune system

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>