Sunday November 17, 2019

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

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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.

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“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

Scientists Link ‘Brain Fog’ to Body Illness

The study focused specifically on an area of the brain that is responsible for visual attention

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Illness
This research finding is major step forward in understanding the links between physical, cognitive, and mental health and tells us that even the mildest of Illness may reduce alertness. Pixabay

Scientists have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness or mental fatigue that often accompanies Illness.

A team at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health investigated the link between the mental fog and inflammation — the body’s response to illness.

In a study published in Neuroimage, the team in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam showed that inflammation appears to have a particular negative impact on the brain’s readiness to reach and maintain an alert state.

Scientists have long suspected a link between inflammation and cognition, but it is very difficult to be clear about the cause and effect.

“For example, people living with a medical condition or being very overweight might complain of cognitive impairment, but it’s hard to tell if that’s due to the inflammation associated with these conditions or if there are other reasons,” said senior study author Dr Ali Mazaheri from University of Birmingham.

The study focused specifically on an area of the brain that is responsible for visual attention.

A group of 20 young male volunteers took part and received a salmonella typhoid vaccine that causes temporary inflammation but has few other side effects.

Brain activity was measured while they performed the attention tests.

On a different day, either before or after, they received an injection with water (a placebo) and did the same attention tests.

Illness
Scientists have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness or mental fatigue that often accompanies Illness. Pixabay

On each test day, they were unaware of which injection they had received.

The results showed that inflammation specifically affected brain activity related to staying alert, while the other attention processes appeared unaffected by inflammation.

“This research finding is major step forward in understanding the links between physical, cognitive, and mental health and tells us that even the mildest of illnesses may reduce alertness,” noted Professor Jane Raymond.

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The next step for the team will be to test the effects of inflammation on other areas of brain function such as memory. (IANS)