December 3, 2006

USING GENETICALLY-ENGINEERED VIRUSES to research HIV:

From a medical standpoint, what makes this viral Frankenstein special is that it possesses twin traits not found together in any other virus. First, it can replicate in macaques—monkeys commonly used in medical research—causing an AIDS-like illness. That’s crucial, because macaques are ideal vessels in which to study how immune-compromising viruses do their dirty work. Second, the new pathogen is susceptible to a full complement of antiretroviral drugs, the primary tools used to treat HIV-positive patients. This means that, for the first time, researchers can both induce and suppress an ailment that mimics the defining aspects of human HIV infection.

Be sure to keep it contained! Plus, a look at promising new gene-based vaccines.

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