Supercomputer Creates HIV's Evolutionary Tree
BY HIV Plus Editors
December 15 2009 1:00 AM ET
Researchers are using Los Alamos National Laboratory's Roadrunner supercomputer, the world's fastest, to analyze vast quantities of genetic sequences from HIVers in the hope of zeroing in on possible vaccine target areas.
Physicist Tanmoy Bhattacharya and HIV researcher Bette Korber have used samples taken by the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology across the globe -- from both chronic and acute HIV patients -- and created an evolutionary genetic family tree, known as a phylogenetic tree, to look for similarities in the acute versus chronic sequences that may identify areas where vaccines would be most effective.
"[This] supercomputer gives us the capacity to look for similarities across whole populations of acute patients," says Bhattacharya. "At this scale we can begin to figure out the relationships between chronic and acute infections using statistics to determine the interconnecting branches, and it is these interconnections where a specially designed vaccine might be most effective."