HIV gene sequence data now on Web
To help physicians make treatment decisions and to help researchers develop new drugs, Dr. Robert Shafer, clinical assistant professor of medicine, has developed what he believes is the first Web site to carry HIV gene sequences along with information on how these sequences correlate with drug susceptibility tests and clinical results (see accompanying article).
HIV is one of the most heavily sequenced organisms in the world, yet only a small proportion of these sequences have been publicly available, Shafer said. His new Web site (http://hivdb.stanford.edu), launched in May, now carries some 4,500 sequences that he has culled in the past year from various sources, including data from Stanford patients, published medical literature and GenBank, the repository of genetic information at the National Institutes of Health. He said he hopes other researchers will contribute to his new information bank.
While the Web site initially will be most useful for researchers, Shafer said he hopes to make it more user-friendly for clinicians, who could check the data when deciding which drugs to use or avoid with a given HIV patient.
"A clinician could look at the sequence and find a drug that would work [for that particular patient]," Shafer said. "It also helps people understand why [individual] patients aren't doing well. It's useful for physicians and patients to know that."
He hopes the Web site will contribute to the design of future therapies for HIV. "Collecting this information is very important for developing the next generation of drugs," Shafer said.
Shafer received seed money for the
site from the Inter-Company Collaboration for AIDS Research, Gilead
Sciences and Merck & Co. -- R.R.