It’s widely known that cats can benefit human health – by lowering blood pressure, lowering stress, and reducing risk of heart attack. But now, researchers from the University of Florida and University of California, San Francisco reported findings from cats that could ultimately lead to the creation of a successful AIDS vaccine for humans.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a disease caused by a virus call HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). It alters a person’s immune system, making them unable to fight off certain infections and diseases. There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. Treatments can slow the progression of the disease, but so far, no one has been successful in developing a cure or a vaccine.
However, researchers have discovered that blood from patients infected with HIV shows and immune response against a particular FIV (or Feline AIDS) protein.
Medical News Today reported:
Previous studies have shown that when combining various whole HIV proteins to create vaccine components, the results have not been strong enough to create a commercial vaccine.
But the researchers believe that the feline AIDS virus could be used to discover areas of the human AIDS virus, and this could lead to a new vaccine-development strategy for HIV.
Janet Yamamoto, professor of retroviral immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Florida said in an interview:
“Since FIV 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.”
Yamamoto further explained the benefit this research will have on both humans and cats:
“[We need to] test these regions as vaccine components in cats against FIV, and monkeys against SIV, before phase-I clinical trials in humans. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires testing in two animal species before testing in humans.
The by-product of this work will be the production of improved second-generation FIV vaccine. Thus, our work will benefit both humans and cats.”
Yamamoto not only co-discovered the deadly feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) but she also developed the first FIV vaccine for cats – and now her groundbreaking research may lead to a similar vaccine for human AIDS.
The researchers findings have been published in the October issue of the Journal of Virology.