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Genetic Variety of HIV


An Investigation of Genetic Variety of HIV in Russia and CIS Countries

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-MIB/Microbiology/Biotechnology
  • BIO-CGM/Cytology, Genetics and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology
  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Highly Pure Biopreparations, Russia, St Petersburg


  • Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI), Sweden, Solna\nKarolinska Institute, Sweden, Stockholm\nIstituto Nazionale Per Lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Italy, Napoli

Project summary

The object of the present investigation is to study molecular epidemiology and molecular virology of HIV in CIS countries, where a dramatic rise of the rate of new incidences of HIV infection is observed.

At present 10 HIV-1 subtypes related to group M are known. This is the group a pandemia of HIV infection is mainly associated to. It has been demonstrated that different subtypes are associated with different countries and continents. For example, the subtype B caused the incidences of HIV infection in some regions of the American Continent (the USA, Brazilia) and in West Europe. The spread of HIV infection in Thailand was caused by the subtype E, and the subtype C caused the epidemic in India. Since 1995 a sharp increase of the number of HIV-infected inpiduals has been observed in Ukraine. It is associated with the intravenous injection of narcotics. In 1996 the HIV infection arose in Byelorussia among drug addicts who used intravenous injections of narcotics. At present in many regions of Russia a sharp increase of HIV incidences is also observed among drug addicts. In connection with the presence of the early stage of HIV epidemic in Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine, there is a unique possibility of carrying out the molecular-epidemiological and virological investigations.

In the project being proposed the epidemiological and virological investigations of the dynamics of spreading of different HIV subtypes in Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine are to be performed. HIV-isolates circulating in different risk groups will be compared by molecular biological and virological characteristics (pheno-, sero- and genotypes). The relation of the last-named characteristics with a progression of the early stage of HIV/AIDS epidemic in many other countries is still not elucidated. It is also suggested to study the possibility of existence of the unknown limiting factors, which may for a while prevent the explosive development of the epidemic, or those factors, which may initiate the more rapid spreading of the epidemic.

The level of spreading of the azidothymidine-resistant HIV strains over CIS countries is also to be studied. The problem is of interest due to the fact that the wide application of antiviral therapy in countries of West Europe and America within the last 10 years resulted in the appearance of HIV strains resistant to antiviral drugs, primarily, to azidothymidine. The study of the spreading of drug-resistant HIV strains in CIS countries, where the antiviral HIV-therapy is moderate due to economical reasons, will allow the better understanding of processes for the development of antiviral drug resistance in HIV isolates.

The relation between HIV genotype and serotype is also to be examined within the project. We found earlier that HIV variability caused by mutations and recombination sometimes resulted in the appearance of virus variants, which identification by immunologic and genetic methods gave different results. To elucidate the relation, the more detail investigations are needed.

The following results are to be obtained:

- current epidemiological data about the spreading of HIV infection in Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine;

- the genetic variability of HIV subtypes, which circulate in the given region, will be determined; new data on their geographical distribution, the rate of their genetic and antigenic variability will be attained;

- HIV subtypes from centers of HIV infection in different regions of the former USSR as well as from patients of different risk groups will be isolated; their biological properties will be studied;

- the data on the existence of viral strains resistant to azidothymidine (AZT) in the region;

- the correspondence of HIV sera typing to its genotyping will be examined, correspondingly, by enzyme immunoassay and direct sequencing.

The results obtained will be analyzed as compared to the situation, existing at different regions of the world. They will be of great importance in understanding how different viral strains gain the advantage inside and among high risk groups as well as in developing the methods to prevent AIDS epidemic spreading and in producing the vaccine against HIV.

Highly skilled personnel, including molecular biologists, geneticists, virologists, chemists, immunologists and other, who have large experience in the given spheres and master the modern methods and technologies, will be involved. The researchers of the Institute were among the first in Russia, who started investigations in molecular virology and molecular epidemiology of HIV.

While executing the project, a complex of up-to-date techniques in molecular virology and genetics will be used, among them: amplification of nucleotide sequences by means of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), enzyme immunoassay for specific viral antigens and antibodies to them (with a technique of double EIA) using a panel of unique synthetic peptides, cloning, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of HIV-specific nucleotide sequences, reverse transcription of viral RNA, separation and study of biological properties of HIV (replication activity, the ability of replicating in different sensitive cell lines, sensitivity to azidothymidine and other).

The project is in conformity with the goals of ISTC and is aimed at the investigation of regularities of the progress of HIV/AIDS epidemics in Russia and CIS countries and the development of anti-HIV vaccine.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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