A scientist at the University of Florida recently discovered that cats will provide future evidence for HIV vaccine. University’s immunology professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Janet Yamamoto, who has 30 years of experience in the study of feline immunodeficiency virus or FIV, has found a common region in FIV and HIV. He describes the region to be an element of protein critical for its survival which may also become a solution to the HIV vaccine.
Yamamoto, when discovered the FIV in 1986, believed it to be quite unlike to HIV because only protein sequences were found to be similar between the two virus species.
But now she has found a protein on the FIV to be generating an immune response in blood from people infected with HIV. These findings were also published in the Virology Journal.
She believed that her efforts to develop HIV vaccines were based on some antibodies used in flu vaccines instead of T-cells. She also found a region on the FIV where these T-cells can be activated to produce more of these cells that in turn killed HIV-infected cells. The region was consistent and thus also very important in finding a vaccine that can protect people from HIV.
Since HIV viruses change very frequently so an area was needed on virus which doesn’t change. Dr. Mobeen Rathore, director of the HIV research Centre in the university has also studied the research and found that although the virus was smarter than the vaccine; there are chances that the reverse can also become true, which can be found by carrying forward the research on cats.
Yamamoto was pretty optimistic about the research being successful in cats and thus succeeded in discovering the first FIV vaccine in the year 2002.
She also said that prior to testing the vaccine in humans; it must also be tested in monkeys. Simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV, which infects monkeys, has also been identified with a similar protein region. She also considered the cat and the monkey models (which were being used for the development of a vaccine for humans) to be quite instinctive but different from the development of smallpox from cowpox vaccine. She thinks that even if animal studies go well, still researchers will take at least five years to reach a level where it can be studied on humans. Yakamoto said she would surely like to witness that as she was the one who started the whole chapter.
Will we actually be able to prevent HIV with the help of cats and monkeys in the next five years? Or is this just another research? Let us wait for the next few years and find out.