|Home>||Relevance of Evolution|
HIV: The Ultimate Evolver (3 of 3)
3. How can we control HIVs evolution of resistance to our drugs?
When taking any single drug, it is fairly likely that some mutant virus in the patient might happen to be resistant, survive the onslaught, and spawn a resistant lineage.
But the probability that the patient hosts a mutant virus that happens to be resistant to several different drugs at the same time is much lower. Although multiple-drug-resistant HIV strains do eventually evolve, drug cocktails delay their evolution.
An evolutionary trade-off.
Consider a patient who takes a particular drug and winds up with viruses resistant to the drug. If the patient stops taking the drug for a while, evolutionary theory predicts that her viral load will evolve back towards a non-resistant strain. If she then takes very strong doses of the drug, it may be able to halt the replication of those non-resistant viruses and reduce her viral load to very low levels.
This therapy has shown early, promising resultsit may not eliminate HIV, but it could keep patients virus loads low for a long time, slowing progression of the disease.
Ultimately, understanding the evolutionary history of HIV and its pattern of evolutionary change may help us control this disease.
Search · Site Index · Navigation · Copyright · Credits · Contact
Understanding Evolution For Teachers Home · Understanding Evolution Home
Read how others have recognized the Understanding Evolution website
Spanish translation of Understanding Evolution For Teachers from the Spanish Society of Evolutionary Biology.