Magazine article Science News

Monkey Vaccine Prevents AIDS-Like Disease

Magazine article Science News

Monkey Vaccine Prevents AIDS-Like Disease

Article excerpt

Monkey vaccine prevents AIDS-like disease

Scientists have shown that a newly developed vaccine can shield rhesus monkeys from infection caused by a virus closely related to the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The results are preliminary, but researchers believe the work brings them closer to the goal of finding a vaccine to protect humans from the deadly AIDS virus.

"It's the first [published] report of successful vaccine protection against an AIDS-like virus," says Ronald C. Desrosiers of the New England Regional Primate Research Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Desrosiers and his colleagues made the vaccine by chemically inactivating the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), which resembles HIV genetically and causes an AIDS-like illness in rhesus monkeys. The killed, whole-virus vaccine does not cause illness itself but spurs the monkey's immune system to manufacture SIV-fighting antibodies.

This vaccine production method resembles the one Jonas Salk used in the 1950s to create the first commercial polio vaccine. Last June, Salk, now at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, and Clarence J. Gibbs, at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, presented preliminary results from human and chimp studies using a different AIDS vaccine (SN: 6/17/89, p.375).

In their work, Desrosiers and his colleagues gave six rhesus monkeys five inoculations each with the SIV vaccine. One week after the last vaccination, they challenged the monkeys' immune systems with an injection of live SIV. Two of the six vaccinated monkeys showed no evidence of SIV infection for as long as a year and a half after the challenge, the scientists report in the August PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (Vol.86, No.16). Despite repeated testing, the researchers found no SIV in blood taken from either monkey.

Because SIV can evade even sophisticated laboratory detection methods, Desrosiers' group performed one final test to check for infection: They took 10 milliliters of whole blood from each of the two monkeys and transfused it into two unexposed rhesus monkeys. …

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