Navigation Links
HIV -- Geneticists map human resistance to AIDS

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.


Contact: Jacques Fellay
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne

Related biology news :

1. CSHL geneticists solve mystery of EEC Syndromes variable severity in children
2. Study maps human impacts on top ocean predators along US west coast
3. Induced pluripotent stem cells reveal differences between humans and great apes
4. Rats! Humans and rodents process their mistakes
5. Baculovirus-recognizing human cell receptor identified for the first time
6. New approach to treating human brain cancer could lead to improved outcomes
7. Superconductivity to meet humanitys greatest challenges
8. Functional genetic variation in humans: Comprehensive map published
9. DiscoveRx Announces Launch of New Human Primary Cell-Based Panels for Oncology Research
10. Better sharing of genetic information in human health
11. Novel avian influenza A virus has potential for both virulence and transmissibility in humans
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... Paris from 17 th ... Paris from 17 th until 19 th ... leader, has invented the first combined scanner in the world ... scanning surface. Until now two different scanners were required: one ... both on the same surface. This innovation is an ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces ... joined its Board of Directors. --> ... after recently retiring from the partnership at TPG Capital, ... companies with over $140 Billion in revenue.  He founded ... across all the TPG companies, from 1997 to 2013.  ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... today announced expansion of its TDDI product portfolio ... controller and display driver integration (TDDI) solutions designed ... new TDDI products add to the previously-announced ... (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) solutions. All ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015  The Minnesota High Tech ... the 2015 Tekne Award in the Small and Growing ... the Minneapolis Convention Center, the ... a significant role in developing new technologies that positively ... the world. Clostridium difficile infection ( ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... CA (PRWEB) , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... Microscopy (AFM) announces Park NX10 SICM Module, an add-on scanning ion conductance microscopy ... integratesthe power of SICM to an AFM. , Park SICM benefits virtually all ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 1, 2015  Symic, a clinical-stage biotherapeutics company ... matrix (ECM), today announced that it has secured $25 ... company,s pipeline, including its lead candidates SB-030 and SB-061. ... the participation by all existing major investors, as well ... total capital raised by Symic to over $43 million ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... month and Dr. J. Kyle Mathews will join fellow surgeons in ... single site hysterectomy. , An experienced urogynecologist, founder of Plano Urogynecology Associates and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: