Wild gorillas carriers of a SIV virus close to the AIDS virusNovember 14, 2006
Some months ago, the team of Martine Peeters, director of research at IRD, and Eric Delaporte, director of the mixed research unit UMR 145 jointly involving the IRD and the University of Montpellier 1, showed the chimpanzee subspecies living in the Congo Basin (2) to be the reservoir of HIV-1 virus group M, the source of the world pandemic and that of another, very rare variant, HIV-1 group N. However, the reservoir of the third HIV-1 group, group O which infects humans (3), remained unidentified up to now.
This team announces, in an article in the journal Nature, the discovery of a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection in wild gorillas. Samples of faeces collected from different communities of gorillas found in the remotest areas of the Cameroon tropical forest were found to contain antibodies against this virus, called SIVgor. The genetic characteristics of the virus were present again in three gorillas living more than 400 km apart. Phylogenetic analysis of SIVgor showed it to be related to HIV-1 group O found in humans, essentially in Cameroon and in neighbouring countries.
This discovery of an HIV-1 related virus in wild gorillas does not, however, call into question the fact that chimpanzees are the primary reservoir of SIV/HIV viruses that crop up again in gorillas and in humans. As Martine Peeters of the IRD says, "the viruses of groups M and N are, very clearly, the consequence of inter-species transmission from chimpanzee to humans, whereas the origin of HIV-1 group O is less apparent. It cannot be excluded that chimpanzees infected by HIV-1 group O might have contaminated humans and the gorilla independently, or that the gorilla, having been contaminated by the chimpanzee, might have contaminated humans".
This work thus opens up a Pandora's box on the questions and speculations concerning the ability of these viruses to cross over from one species to another. The main challenges facing these teams for future work will be determination of the prevalence, the geographical distribution and biology of SIV infections in these great apes, not forgetting the question of how the gorillas were contaminated. This last point remains a mystery,considered as rare.
1. UMR 145: Fran Van Heuverswijn, Cecile Neel, Florian Liegeois, Christelle Butel, Eric Delaporte and Martine Peeters jointly involving the IRD and the University of Montpellier1 University of Alabama (Beatrice Hahn and her colleagues), University of Nottingham (Paul Sharp and his colleagues) PRESICA Project of Cameroon headed by Eitel Mpoudi-Ngole.
2. Keele BF, Van Heuverswyn F, Li Y, Bailes E, Takehisa J, Santiago ML, Bibollet-Ruche F, Chen Y, Wain LV, Liegeois F, Loul S, Mpoudi Ngole E, Bienvenue Y, Delaporte E, Brookfield JF, Sharp PM, Shaw GM, Peeters M, Hahn BH. Chimpanzee Reservoirs of Pandemic and Nonpandemic HIV-1. Science. 2006 , 313 : 523-6
3. Scientists have known for a long time that the Aids virus shows a very strong genetic variability. Two main types of the virus exist: HIV 1 and HIV 2. HIV 1, the most widely spread in the world, embraces three groups (M, N,O) which manifest different genetic characteristics. Within group M, the most frequent, still 9 further subtypes can be distinguished (A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K), genetically close yet distinct.
Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement
Related Hiv-1 Current Events and Hiv-1 News Articles
Researchers turn computers into powerful allies in the fight against AIDS
The battle against AIDS cannot be won in the laboratory alone. To fight the potentially deadly virus that 34 million people are suffering from we need help from computers. Now research fron University of Southern Denmark turns computers into powerful allies in the battle.
HIV pandemic's origins located
The HIV pandemic with us today is almost certain to have begun its global spread from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a new study.
Longstanding bottleneck in crystal structure prediction solved
Two years after its release, the HIV-1 drug Ritonavir was pulled from the market. Scientists discovered that the drug had crystallized into a slightly different form-called a polymorph-that was less soluble and made it ineffective as a treatment.
Antibodies, together with viral 'inducers,' found to control HIV in mice
Although HIV can now be effectively suppressed using anti-retroviral drugs, it still comes surging back the moment the flow of drugs is stopped. Latent reservoirs of HIV-infected cells, invisible to the body's immune system and unreachable by pharmaceuticals, ensure that the infection will rebound after therapy is terminated.
New research offers hope for HIV vaccine development
In a scientific discovery that has significant implications for HIV vaccine development, collaborators at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Duke University School of Medicine have uncovered novel properties of special HIV antibodies.
New HIV prevention recommendations combine biomedical and behavioral approaches
In an innovative approach to HIV prevention, an interdisciplinary group of experts has come together for the first time to lay out a framework of best practices to optimize the role of the clinician in achieving an AIDS-free generation.
Hepatitis C cured in co-infected HIV patients
A multicenter team of researchers report that in a phase III clinical trial, a combination drug therapy cures chronic hepatitis C in the majority of patients co-infected with both HIV and hepatitis C.
New findings show strikingly early seeding of HIV viral reservoir
The most critical barrier for curing HIV-1 infection is the presence of the viral reservoir, the cells in which the HIV virus can lie dormant for many years and avoid elimination by antiretroviral drugs.
GW Researcher Unlocks Next Step in Creating HIV-1 Immunotherapy Using Fossil Virus
The road to finding a cure for HIV-1 is not without obstacles. However, thanks to cutting-edge research by Douglas Nixon, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues, performed at the George Washington University (GW), Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Rochester, and UC San Francisco, the scientific community is one step closer to finding a viable immunotherapy option for HIV-1, using an immune attack against a fossil virus buried in the genome.
New monkey model for AIDS offers promise for medical research
HIV-1, the virus responsible for most cases of AIDS, is a very selective virus. It does not readily infect species other than its usual hosts - humans and chimpanzees.
More Hiv-1 Current Events and Hiv-1 News Articles