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Collaboration to Undertake HIV Resistance Testing in Africa

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 06 Aug 2012
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Sequencing-based diagnostics for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals will be carried out in Africa in order to determine resistance to antiretroviral drugs.

Life Technologies Corp. (Carlsbad, CA, USA) is collaborating with the Southern African Treatment and Resistance Network (SATuRN) to develop a simple-to-answer solution for antiretroviral (ARV) drug resistance testing, which is being made available to African partners at a reasonable cost per test. The test can be run on Life's Applied Biosystems line of Sanger sequencing instruments, which are broadly installed in African hospitals and HIV-testing centers.

Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV treatment are becoming increasingly available in the developing world but resistance to these drugs develops in many HIV-infected individuals. Resistance can be monitored by genetic sequencing of two viral genes, but current costs have made routine use prohibitive in most African countries.

The methods developed as part of this collaboration have the potential to become the most accurate and cost-effective methods for the diagnosis of resistance pathogens in Africa and the referral of patients for appropriate care. The price of DNA/RNA genotyping is rapidly decreasing as technology evolves rapidly, and the software applications to be used and further developed are all open source and available in Africa.

Additional collaborators on the test development include the Stanford HIV Drug Resistance Database).

"We have trained 1,315 physicians and medical personnel on the interpretation of HIV drug resistance in southern Africa. The region has more than 2 million patients on ARV treatment, and we believe that now is the time for the use of genotyping technology to fight the battle against drug resistance," said Dr. Tulio de Oliveira, director of SATuRN and senior researcher at Wellcome Trust-Africa Centre. "This partnership with LIFE will allow more laboratories to use genotyping techniques, and large surveys on drug resistance to be produced to inform national department of health and policy makers in the region."

SATuRN is a consortium of virologists, clinicians, epidemiologists, bioinformaticians, policy makers, public health specialists, and social scientists working on HIV treatment and care in southern Africa. SATuRN has developed an approach to virological failure clinical management that ensures the delivery of drug resistance genotyping and clinical management to remote clinics without them needing elaborate computer systems or infectious disease specialists on site.

By applying telemedicine and off site laboratories, specialists and physicians from medical centers across the world can review cases, including clinical and resistance data, and give feedback and advice to the clinician managing the patient at the primary clinic.

Life Technologies Corp. is a global biotechnology company. It has more than 50,000 products for agricultural biotechnology, translational research, molecular medicine and diagnostics, stem cell-based therapies, forensics, food safety, and animal health.

Related Links:
Life Technologies Corp.
Saturn
Stanford HIV Drug Resistance Database

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