Cats Possibly Key To Successful Human HIV Vaccine

James Johnson

Cats may hold the key to a successful human HIV vaccine, according to a news release from the University of Florida.

HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, is the retrovirus) that causes AIDS, or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS causes a progressive failure of the immune system, ultimately leading to death. Neither HIV nor AIDS are curable. However, both can be controlled with a strict regime of medications. Previous attempts at creating a human HIV vaccine had been unsuccessful.

Now researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida believe that cats may hold the key to a successful human HIV vaccine.

In a new study published in the Journal of Virology, researchers discovered that blood from HIV-positive patients shows an immune response against a feline AIDS virus protein.

Janet Yamamoto, a professor of retroviral immunology, explains the reasons for using cats in developing a human HIV vaccine to Medical News Today:

"Since FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and HIV-1 are distant cousins and their sequences are similar, we used the T cells from HIV positive human subjects to see if they can react and induce anti-HIV activity to small regions of FIV protein, which lead to the current story."

Professor Yamamoto continues:

"In humans, some peptides stimulate immune responses, which either enhance HIV infection or have no effect at all, while others may have anti-HIV activities that are lost when the virus changes or mutates to avoid such immunity. So, we are looking for those viral peptides in the cat AIDS virus that can induce anti-HIV T-cell activities and do not mutate."

The researchers believe that using cats can help identify peptides that work exceptionally well at producing human T cells that fight against HIV, thus paving the road to a successful human HIV vaccine. The results of the study indicate that FIV peptides could be used in an HIV-1 vaccine.

Dogs may be man's best friend, but cats could hold the key to the development of a human HIV vaccine.