For years, humans have been struggling to find a cure for HIV. As it turns out, our animal friends may be able to help shed some light on the as-yet inscrutable disease.
According to a new study reported in the October issue of the Journal of Virology, cats may offer some promising clues for an HIV vaccine. In the study, researchers from the University of Florida and the University of California, San Francisco, looked at the relationship between feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). What they found was that a protein on the FIV virus triggered an immune response in blood from HIV-infected people.
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One of the scientists associated with the research study told 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.”
Approximately 4.4% of cats worldwide are infected with feline immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, the feline version of AIDs. Although they are two distinct viruses, FIV resembles HIV sufficiently enough to make it useful for scientific study.
Although the quest toward eradicating HIV/AIDs is far from over, these findings offer some tantalizing hope for the development of an effective vaccine for AIDS.