Knowing the possible evolutionary paths allows for more accurate predictions if the AIDS pathogen is likely to develop a resistance to a drug and thus if the treatment is likely to become ineffective in a specific patient. This is the conclusion of a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
The HI virus is feared, not least, because of its great adaptability. If the virus mutates at precisely the point targeted by a drug, it is able to neutralise the attack and the treatment fails. To minimise these viral defence mechanisms, doctors treat patients with modern combination therapies involving the simultaneous administration of several drugs. This approach forces the virus to run through a series of mutations before it becomes immune to the drugs.
Sequential nature of mutations
"It is not easy to decide which of the over 30 combination therapies is best suited to a patient," says Huldrych Günthard from Zurich University Hospital, president of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. The decision is based on the prospects of success and therefore on the genetic make-up of a particular virus. The established prediction models already consider the genetics of the virus but they neglect that the virus continuously evolves through sequential mutations.
Choosing the right therapy for each patient
In cooperation with the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, Niko Beerenwinkel and his team from ETH Zurich have now developed a more accurate prediction model based on a probabilistic method (*). This model calculates the possible evolutionary paths of the virus and yields a new predictive measure for the development of resistances: the so-called individualised genetic barrier. When applied retrospectively to 2185 patients of the HIV Cohort, the new approach made it possible to predict treatment success more accurately compared to the existing models. "We are now introducing the individualised genetic barrier in a pilot project and hope that it will help us in the future to identify the best therapy for each patient," says Günthard.
(*) Niko Beerenwinkel, Hesam Montazeri, Heike Schuhmacher, Patrick Knupfer, Viktor von Wyl, Hansjakob Furrer, Manuel Battegay, Bernard Hirschel, Matthias Cavassini, Pietro Vernazza, Enos Bernasconi, Sabine Yerly, Jürg Böni, Thomas Klimkait, Cristina Cellerai, Huldrych F. Günthard, and the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (2013). The Individualized Genetic Barrier Predicts Treatment Response in a Large Cohort of HIV-1 Infected Patients. PLoS Computational Biology online. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003203
The Swiss HIV Cohort Study
Established in 1988, the Cohort Study aims to generate knowledge about HIV infection and AIDS as well as to improve the care given to patients. All Swiss hospitals specialising in HIV (Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, St. Gallen and Zurich) have collected and analysed data from over 18,000 HIV-positive persons. More than 8,800 persons are currently taking part in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. Almost a third of them are women.
More articles from Health and Medicine:
Dietary amino acids improve sleep problems in mice with traumatic brain injury
12.12.2013 | Oregon Health & Science University
Orbital samples with sight-saving potential
12.12.2013 | NASA/Johnson Space Center
A unique solar panel design made with a new ceramic material points the way to potentially providing sustainable power cheaper, more efficiently, and requiring less manufacturing time.
It also reaches a four-decade-old goal of discovering a bulk photovoltaic material that can harness energy from visible and infrared light, not just ultraviolet light.
Scaling up this new design from its tablet-size prototype to a full-size solar panel would be a large step toward making solar power affordable compared with ...
Atlantische Flohkrebse pflanzen sich jetzt auch in arktischen Gewässern fort
Biologen des Alfred-Wegener-Institutes, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI), haben zum ersten Mal nachgewiesen, dass sich in den arktischen Gewässern westlich Spitzbergens auch Flohkrebse aus dem wärmeren Atlantik fortpflanzen.
Diese überraschende Entdeckung deute auf einen möglichen Wandel der arktischen Zooplankton-Gemeinschaft hin, berichten die Wissenschaftler und Wissenschaftlerinnen in der Fachzeitschrift Marine Ecology ...
The molecular architecture of three key proteins and their complexes reveals how plants fine-tune their immune response to pathogens
Plants rarely get sick in their natural environment. When the threat of infection arises, a quick decision is made about the necessary countermeasures. The course is set by a protein which forms complexes with its partner proteins for this purpose.
Jane Parker from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ...
Researchers studying speciation of butterfly orchids on the Azores have been startled to discover that the answer to a long-debated question "Do the islands support one species or two species?" is actually "three species".
Hochstetter's Butterfly-orchid, newly recognized following application of a battery of scientific techniques and reveling in a complex taxonomic history worthy of Sherlock Holmes, is arguably Europe's rarest orchid species. Under threat in its mountain-top retreat, the orchid urgently requires conservation recognition.
A lavishly illustrated publication, titled "Systematic revision of Platanthera in ...
Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon's largest impact crater.
Data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter shows a diverse mineralogy in the subsurface of the giant South Pole Aitken basin.
The differing mineral signatures could be reflective of the minerals dredged up at the time of the giant impact 4 billion years ago, ...
12.12.2013 | Life Sciences
12.12.2013 | Earth Sciences
12.12.2013 | Studies and Analyses
11.12.2013 | Event News
10.12.2013 | Event News
05.12.2013 | Event News