News / Health

'Humanized' Mouse May Speed Development of HIV Vaccine

Jessica Berman

There is a certain, rare class of individuals infected with HIV whose immune systems seem to do a better job of keeping the AIDS virus in check. Members of this group of HIV-infected individuals, commonly referred to as "elite controllers," live longer with the virus with fewer early complications. Now, researchers have bred an experimental mouse with a human immune system, which they hope will lead to the development of an HIV prevention vaccine modeled on the immune systems of elite controllers.


The new "humanized" mouse model was created by transplanting portions of the human immune system into immune-deficient rodents, including stem cells from bone marrow, as well as liver and thymus tissue. The thymus is a large gland at the bottom of the throat that "trains" T-lymphocytes, or T cells, to attack unwelcome microbes.

By using these so-called BLT mice, researcher Todd Allen says scientists will be able to see exactly how the human immune system responds to the AIDS virus and how the pathogen evades destruction by natural defense mechanisms.

Allen, who works with the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard University, says researchers hope to learn, for example, why the immune systems of some HIV-infected individuals manage the virus better than others.

"Some people termed ‘elite controllers’ are able to control HIV very well, to very low [viral] copies," he said. "And what we know is that they express a kind of host genetics that dictates that they target very critical regions of the virus."

Until recently, HIV research was primarily conducted in rhesus macaques. The monkey seemed to be a good human stand-in because the macaque could be easily infected with a primate version of HIV called simian immune-deficiency virus, or SIV. But differences in the genetics of SIV and HIV, as well as the human and monkey immune systems, mean SIV-infected macaques are not the best model for studying HIV.

Allen says the newly created mouse model accurately reflects what happens in humans infected with the AIDS virus.

Thanks to primate research and studies of how the virus attacks human cells, Allen says scientists now know a great deal about how well an individual’s genetic make-up determines their immune response to HIV, which they hope to further investigate in the humanized mouse.

"So it allows us to take all the discoveries we’ve had in studying individuals infected with HIV in the different immune responses and host genetics that correlate with a better outcome, and translate that now into an animal model where we can actually further manipulate that to understand how these individuals are actually doing that," he said.


And hopefully translate that information into an HIV vaccine.

An article published by Todd Allen and colleagues on the creation of an experimental mouse with a human immune system is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

 

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid