Tuesday January 28, 2020

Scientists Discover New HIV Strain After Nearly 2 Decades

In order to utilise this technology, Abbott scientists had to develop and apply new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample to fully sequence and complete the genome

0
//
HIV
Since the beginning of the global AIDS pandemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million people day are living with the virus. Pixabay

A team of scientists at pharmaceutical major Abbott has identified a new subtype of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), called HIV-1 Group M, subtype L.

The discovery marks the first time a new subtype of HIV-1 has been identified since 2000.

The findings, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), show the role next-generation genome sequencing is playing in helping researchers stay one step ahead of mutating viruses and avoiding new pandemics.

Since the beginning of the global AIDS pandemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million people day are living with the virus.

“In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location,” said Carole McArthur, Pofessor at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and one of the study authors.

Group M viruses are responsible for the global pandemic, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To determine whether an unusual virus is in fact a new HIV subtype, three cases must be discovered independently.

The first two samples of this subtype were discovered in the DRC in the 1980s and the 1990s. The third, collected in 2001, was difficult to be sequenced at that time because of the amount of virus in the sample and the existing technology.

Today, next-generation sequencing technology allows researchers to build an entire genome at higher speeds and lower costs.

HIV
To determine whether an unusual virus is in fact a new HIV subtype, three cases must be discovered independently. Pixabay

In order to utilise this technology, Abbott scientists had to develop and apply new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample to fully sequence and complete the genome.

“Identifying new viruses such as this one is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” said Mary Rodgers, a principal scientist and head of the Global Viral Surveillance Program, Diagnostics, Abbott, and one of the study authors.

ALSO READ: India Assists Syria By Rebuilding Brain Power

“By advancing our techniques and using next generation sequencing technology, we are pulling the needle out with a magnet. This scientific discovery can help us ensure that we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks.” (IANS)

Next Story

Skin Cream Used To Treat Warts, Skin Cancer May Help in Fighting Against Dengue, Zika Viruses

By boosting the immune system and not targeting a specific virus, this strategy has the potential to be a 'silver bullet' for a wide range of distinct mosquito-borne viral diseases

0
Cream
A study shows that a clinically approved, widely used skin cream has the potential to be repurposed as a valuable protector against insect-borne diseases. Pixabay

A skin cream used to treat warts and skin cancer could help protect people against viral diseases such as Zika and dengue, according to new study.

The cream, called imiquimod or Aldara, is commonly used to treat genital warts and some forms of skin cancer.

“This study shows that a clinically approved, widely used skin cream has the potential to be repurposed as a valuable protector against insect-borne diseases,” said study lead author Clive McKimmie, from the University of Leeds in UK.

For the findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers studied four types of virus transmitted by mosquitos and found that applying a cream within an hour of a mosquito bite dramatically reduced infection rates in their models.

They used two different models to understand the effect of the skin cream – human skin samples and mice. In both cases, applying the skin cream acted like a warning signal which caused a rapid activation of the skin’s immune response that fights any potential viral threats. This prevented the virus from spreading around the body and causing disease.

“What is especially encouraging about our results is that the cream was effective against a number of distinct viruses, without needing to be targeted to one particular virus,” McKimmie said. “If this strategy can be developed into a treatment option then we might be able to use it to tackle a wide range of new emerging diseases that we have not yet encountered,” McKimmie added.

There are hundreds of viruses spread by biting mosquitoes which can infect humans. These include the dengue virus, West Nile virus, Zika virus and chikungunya virus, which have all had large outbreaks in recent years. At present, there are no anti-viral medicines and few vaccines to help combat these infections.

According to the researchers, when a mosquito bites the skin, the body reacts in a very specific way to try and mitigate the physical trauma of the skin being punctured. The bite causes a wound healing repair mechanism to begin, however, the skin does not prepare itself to respond to viral attack. This means mosquito-borne viruses that enter the skin through a bite are able to replicate quickly with little anti-viral response in the skin and then spread throughout the body, the study said.

Cream, Lotion, Hands, Sunscreen, Spa, Skin, Wellness
A skin cream used to treat warts and skin cancer could help protect people against viral diseases such as Zika and dengue, according to new study. Pixabay

By applying skin cream after a bite, researchers found that they could pre-emptively activate the immune system’s inflammatory response before the virus becomes a problem. The cream encouraged a type of immune cell in the skin, called a macrophage, to suddenly spring into action to fight off the virus before it could spread around the body.

ALSO READ: Cannabis Usage Common in Adults with Pain Disorders: Study

“By boosting the immune system and not targeting a specific virus, this strategy has the potential to be a ‘silver bullet’ for a wide range of distinct mosquito-borne viral diseases,” said study co-author Steven Bryden. (IANS)