Abbott Discovers New HIV Strain
A group of scientists at the medical devices and health care expert company Abbott has discovered a new strain of HIV. This strain of the virus is the first to be identified in 19 years.
Abbott is in continuous search for potential new HIV strains to ensure that diagnostic tests for blood screening & detecting infectious diseases remain up to date, said the official press release.
The new strain has been named as HIV-1 group M subtype L. It is extremely rare and can be detected only by Abbott’s current screening system. The company’s tests screen more than 60% of the global blood supply.
In the early days of HIV, in the 1980s and 1990s, some blood donors were unaware of the fact that they had HIV. These HIV patients added the virus to the blood supply. A considerable number of patients who needed regular blood transfusions suffering from hemophilia ended up contracting HIV and often dying.
Abbott Discovers New HIV Strain- How Did Abbott Discover The New HIV Strain?
The latest of the three samples used to identify HIV-1 group M subtype L has been sitting in an Abbott freezer since 2001. The amount of virus present in the sample was too low to detect back then, but new technology recently made it possible.
Today, next-generation sequencing technology (NGS) allows scientists to build an entire genome at higher speeds and lower costs. To utilize this technology, scientists at Abbott developed and applied new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample to sequence and complete the genome fully.
Jonah Sacha, a professor at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, said that the study reminds us of the dangerous diversity of HIV. He says that Antiretroviral drugs inhibit the virus’s reproduction and spread, but they have significant side effects. Even when drugs keep the AIDS virus under control, patients are at higher risk for blood cancer, cardiovascular complications, and other problems.
Michael Worobey, head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, said that it is not surprising that there are a diverse number of HIV strains in Central Africa. This was where the disease originated. Identifying a new strain of the virus does not add much to the knowledge in HIV research.
The newly discovered subtype belongs to the most common form of HIV- group M, which accounts for more than 90% of all HIV cases. Abbott created its surveillance program 25 years ago to track changes in HIV and hepatitis viruses strains.
Abbott Discovers New HIV Strain- More About Abbott’s Research
As a leader in blood screening and infectious disease analysis, Abbott had created its Global Viral Surveillance Program 25 years ago to monitor HIV and hepatitis viruses along with identifying mutations to ensure the company’s diagnostic tests remain up to date. As part of this study, Abbott researchers confirmed that its core and molecular laboratory diagnostic tests could detect this new HIV strain.
In partnership with hospitals and academic institutions around the world, Abbott has collected approximately 78,000 samples containing Huma Immunodeficiency Virus and hepatitis viruses from 45 countries, identified and characterized more than 5,000 strains. Abbott has published 125 research papers to date to help the scientific community learn more about these viruses.