SFU Brumme Lab and BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS trace HIV evolution in North America
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, this change is so gradual that it is unlikely to have an impact on vaccine design.
“Much research has focused on how HIV adapts to antiviral drugs—we wanted to investigate how HIV adapts to us, its human hosts, over time,” says lead author Zabrina Brumme, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The study, published today in PLOS Genetics, was led by Brumme’s lab in collaboration with scientists at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, UBC, and sites across the U.S. including Harvard University, the New York Blood Center and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
“HIV adapts to the immune response in reproducible ways. In theory, this could be bad news for host immunity—and vaccines—if such mutations were to spread in the population,” says Brumme. “Just like transmitted drug resistance can compromise treatment success, transmitted immune escape mutations could erode our ability to naturally fight HIV.”