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Viral and Human Genetic Predictors of Response to HIV Therapies

2012 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition – Genomics and Personalized Health
Genome Centre(s):
Genome British Columbia
Project Leader(s):
Richard Harrigan (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), Julio Montaner (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
Project Description: 

The HIV drug “cocktail” has transformed AIDS from a fatal disease  to a manageable condition. Unfortunately, HIV can become resistant to these drugs,  leading to the development of full­blown AIDS in the patient and increasing the chances  of further transmission of the virus. Drs. Richard Harrigan and Julio Montaner's research  team will develop a test for drug resistance personalized to an individual’s DNA and the  DNA of the virus. Lifetime drug costs for HIV are between $250,000 and $500,000 but  there are numerous multipliers of the economic impact of an HIV infection. Nations with  high HIV­infection rates see the significance of those impacts on GDP to a point of  unsustainability. The project is also developing real­time surveillance systems for  monitoring drug resistance to provide an early warning of geographic or population  “hotspots” where resistance rates are highest and the risk of transmission greatest.  Mathematical modeling suggests that implementing this pilot project in Vancouver's  Downtown East Side and Prince George could avert as many as 173 HIV infections in  the first five years, which represents approximately $65 million in avoided lifetime HIV  treatment costs.