Published: Fri, November 08, 2019
Medical | By

US lab identifies rare new HIV strain

US lab identifies rare new HIV strain

Now, for the first time in 19 years, a new type of HIV has been named, subtype L of the HIV-1 M Group, thanks to researchers with Abbott Laboratories and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

The recently perceived strain is delegated subtype L in the gathering M group of HIV-1.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, assured that the present drugs that are active against HIV are capable of fighting this new strain of HIV as well. Fauci said, "There's no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit".

Since the beginning of the global AIDS pandemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million people today are living with the virus. "This is an outlier".

On mapping out the complete genome of the new strain the team was able to identify the subtype as subtype L of Group M. At present the exact effects of this strain of the virus on humans is unknown, they wrote. "At the time, there wasn't technology to determine if this was [a] new subtype".

For scientists to be able to declare that this was a new subtype, three cases of it must be detected independently.

"It's actually misleading to describe genetic diversity from the [Democratic Republic of] Congo as a new subtype because the only useful meaning of the term "subtype" would come from identification of a lineage of the virus that has spread significantly beyond Central Africa", he said.


The sample found and collected in the Congo in 2001 was studied by scientists from Abbott Laboratories and the University of Missouri.

Rodgers says the almost decades-long process of verifying the strain's existence was akin to "searching for a needle in a haystack" and then removing the needle "with a magnet" afterward.

S-based scientist and distinguished Otago alumna, Professor Carole McArthur and her team of researchers, are behind the recently-announced discovery and identification of a new HIV subtype, which has been characterised by United States healthcare company Abbott Laboratories.

"By advancing our techniques and using next-generation sequencing technology, we are pulling the needle out with a magnet". The subtype belongs to the M group of HIV that is said to have caused the most infections.

Technological improvements over the last few years have provided researchers with the ability to get entire genomes faster and from smaller samples.

Forms of this new strain of the HIV might be circulating, both in the DRC and elsewhere, but are unclassified as of now.

"The primary concern is that HIV might evolve to the extent that testing wouldn't work", said Rodgers. Yet researchers must remain vigilant to monitor for new strains to make sure testing and treatments continue to work. "We can never become complacent, we need to be proactive and we're working to stay a step ahead of the virus".

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