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Mouse With Human-Like Immune System Could Advance AIDS Research

Last Updated: July 18, 2012.

Lack of a good animal model has long been an impediment to studying HIV, researchers note.

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists who created mice with elements of the human immune system believe the rodents will further efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

One of the challenges facing researchers striving to develop an HIV vaccine has been the lack of a laboratory animals that accurately reflect the human response to HIV and how the virus evolves to avoid that response.

The U.S. team of scientists transplanted human bone marrow cells and other human tissue into mice without a functioning immune system. This gave the mice aspects of the human immune system.

"Our study showed not only that these humanized mice mount human immune responses against HIV but also that the ability of HIV to evade these responses by mutating viral proteins targeted by CD8 'killer' T-cells is accurately reflected in these mice," study senior author Todd Allen, an associate professor medicine at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard, explained in a MGH news release.

T-cells are immune cells that protect the body from infection.

The mice might significantly reduce the time and costs required to test experimental HIV vaccines, according to the researchers.

The study was published in the July 18 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about HIV/AIDS vaccines.

SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, July 18, 2012

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