New Mathematical HIV Prediction Models by EuResist Project

A cure for the virus that causes AIDS may still be beyond our grasp, but European researchers have developed a predictive software system for HIV that could help extend the lives of victims of the killer disease.

Despite significant progress in the management of the HIV virus that causes AIDS, today's best treatments do not totally eradicate the virus. The virus' ability to develop resistance to current antiretroviral therapy (ARVT) means the therapy needs to be changed if it is to continue to be effective.

By focusing on the genotype of the virus – information which is inexpensive and easily available – and combining this with clinical information about the patient, researchers behind the EU-funded EuResist project developed new mathematical prediction models.

"In cases where there is a long history of resistance, this is an indicator of death, so it is important to try all the possibilities," says Francesca Incardona, EuResist's coordinator. For non-crucial cases, this may help reduce the cost of the therapy, by choosing the right combination of drugs that work for the longest time, she suggests.

EuResist's key achievement was to combine data from HIV databases in Italy, Sweden and Germany, giving "probably the largest database of its kind in the world", according to Incardona.

Combining the world's largest databases and newly created software has given the project the ability to predict how the HIV virus will react in a certain person given a certain combination of drugs. And this performance is better than the current state-of-the-art predictive systems available to medical researchers, says Incardona, who is based at Italian company Informa.

The achievements of EuResist translate into better medicine, lower treatment-related toxicity and cost savings – giving considerable hope to the 40 million people infected with the virus worldwide. Strength in numbers.