Thursday, 7 November 2019
For the first time in 19 years, scientists has detected a new strain of HIV.
The strain is part of the M-group version of HIV-1, the same family of virus subtypes that should be blamed on the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research in collaboration with the University from Missouri. Kansas City
The findings were published Wednesday, Nov. 7 in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. HIV has many different subtypes or strains and, like other viruses, has the ability to change and mutate over time.
This is the first new HIV strain in group M identified since the establishment of guidelines for classifying subtypes in 2000. It is important to know which strains of virus are circulating to ensure the effectiveness of the tests used. to detect the disease.
"This can be a real challenge for diagnostic tests," said Mary Rodgers, co-author of the report and principal scientist at Abbott. His company tests more than 60% of the world's blood supply, he said, and needs to research new strains and track those in circulation so that "we can accurately detect it wherever it is. in the world".
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said current HIV treatments are effective against this strain and others. However, identifying a new strain provides a more complete picture of the evolution of HIV.
"There is no reason to panic or even worry a bit," Fauci said. "Few people are infected with this, it's an atypical case." For scientists to declare that this is a new subtype, three cases must be detected independently. The first two were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1983 and 1990. Both strains were "very unusual and did not match any other," Rodgers said.
The third sample found in the Congo was collected in 2001 as part of a study to prevent transmission of the virus from mother to child. The sample was small and although it looked a lot like the two oldest samples, the scientists wanted to test the entire genome to be sure. At that time, there was no technology to determine if it was the new subtype. Scientists from Abbott and the University of Missouri then developed new techniques for studying and mapping the 2001 sample. According to Rodgers, it was like "looking for a needle in a haystack" then "take out the needle with a magnet".
"This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to believe that this virus is constantly evolving and using the latest technologies and resources to keep pace with its evolution," co-authored Carole McArthur, a professor at The Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, said in a statement.
According to the World Health Organization, some 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV. UNAIDS estimates that in 2016, some 1.8 million people have recently been infected.