Researchers have discovered that computer can detect the transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) across people.
The study found that the simulations consistent with actual DNA data obtained from a global public HIV database.
We looked for special genetic patterns that we had seen in the simulations. We can confirm that these patterns also hold for real data covering the entire epidemic,” said lead author Thomas Leitner from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US.
HIV is particularly interesting to study in this manner as the virus mutates rapidly and constantly within each infected individual, the researcher said.
HIV transmission prediction by genetic signatures
The changing “genetic signatures” of its code provide a path that can be followed in determining the origin and time frame of an infection, the study found.
However, rapid mutational capability of the virus is useful for the epidemiological sleuthing. But is also one of the features that makes it so difficult to tackle with a vaccine.
In study, the researchers used phylogenetic methods. Examining evolutionary relationships in the virus’s genetic code to evaluate HIV transmission.
The team found that certain phylogenetic “family tree” patterns correlated to the DNA data from 955 pairs of people. The transmitter and recipient of the virus known.
Moreover, researchers also plan to develop public health computational tools to help the agencies. By tracking the disease and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns.