A study tracing the evolution of HIV in North America has found evidence that the virus is slowly adapting over time to its human hosts. However, the gradual change is unlikely to have an impact on vaccine design. Researchers characterized HIV sequences from patients dating from 1979, the beginning of the North American HIV epidemic, to modern day. The team reconstructed the epidemic’s ancestral HIV sequence, and from there assessed the spread of immune escape mutations in the population. Results showed the virus is adapting very slowly in North America, but in parts of the world harder hit by HIV rates of adaptation could be higher. The study is published in PLOS Genetics and is available at http://bitsylink.com/?FKXCB.
The study was led by Dr Zabrina Brumme from SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences in collaboration with scientists at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, UBC, and sites across the US including Harvard University, the New York Blood Center, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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