Researchers at Abbott Laboratories have announced the discovery of a new strain of HIV, which they said will keep the global medical community another step ahead of the disease. The discovery is the first time a new subtype of HIV-1 has been identified since 2000.

The new discovery is a subtype of “Group M” HIV, the strain responsible for the global pandemic.

“This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution,” co-study author Carole McArthur, PhD, MD, said in a statement.

Three cases of the unusual virus must be independently discovered in order to establish that it is in fact a new subtype. In the case of the new strain, the first 2 samples were discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1980s and 1990s. The third case was found in 2001, but was difficult to sequence at the time due to technological constraints.

Modern sequencing technology, however, allowed researchers to build an entire genome at higher speeds and lower costs. The team of scientists at Abbott developed new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample in order to fully sequence and complete the genome.

“Identifying new viruses such as this one is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Mary Rodgers, PhD, a principal scientist and one of the study authors, said in a statement. “By advancing our techniques and using next generation sequencing technology, we are pulling the needle out with a magnet. This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks.”

Reference
Abbott Announces Discovery of New Strain of HIV, Keeping Global Health Community a Step Ahead of the Virus [news release]. Abbott Park, Ill; Nov. 6, 2019: Abbott website. https://abbott.mediaroom.com/2019-11-06-Abbott-Announces-Discovery-of-New-Strain-of-HIV-Keeping-Global-Health-Community-a-Step-Ahead-of-the-Virus. Accessed Nov. 8, 2019.