In a major discovery, US-based healthcare company Abbott has discovered a new subtype of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
- The HIV-1 Group M, Subtype L is the newest discovery that is published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS).
- The discovery was made using the next-generation of genome sequencing techniques.
- As per the researchers, this is for the first time a new subtype of Group M HIV has been discovered and a new subtype after 20 years.
- Group M is responsible for the global pandemic which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
- Globally, since the beginning of the pandemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million are living with the virus today.
- The new discovery shows that the global health community should remain vigilant for new strains despite the efforts to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
- Also, the discovery will help pave the way for new treatment regimes and making the existing treatment regimes to work effectively.
- Abbott says that, for identifying a new virus to be the subtype of HIV, they have studied three samples.
- Two samples from DRC collected in the 1980s and 1990s and a third collected in 2001.
- Due to the non-availability of technology at that time, the virus could not be identified.
- Now, the researchers have used Next-generation sequencing technology which allowed the researchers to build the entire genome at a faster pace and at low costs.
- A researcher from the Global Viral Surveillance Programme of Abbott said that they have used new techniques to identify the virus portion of the sample and fully sequence the genome.
Global Viral Surveillance Programme
- The programme was formed by Abbott to monitor HIV and hepatitis viruses and identify their mutations to update the diagnostic tests of the company up to date.
- As part of the programme, Abbott collected 75,000 samples of HIV and Hepatitis from across the world, identified 5000 strains and published 125 research papers.