Geneticists map human AIDS resistance
Washington: Scientists analysed the genomes of thousands of HIV virus strains and produced the first map of human AIDS resistance.
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.
Jacques Fellay, co-author and EPFL researcher, said that 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.
To draw up the first map of human HIV resistance, 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.
Fellay said that they had to study the virus before the patient had undergone treatment, which is far from easy. 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.
Amalio Telenti , co-author and UNIL-CHUV researcher, said that it allows them to not only better understand how to defend themselves from attack but also how the virus adapts itself to our defence mechanisms.
The study has been published in the journal eLife.