Reuters News reported Antibodies found that provide protection against AIDS. By studying humans, researchers discovered an antibody that is activated after infection with HIV. If this antibody, or a modification of it, can be administered prior to infection, it might protect humans from AIDS.
"I am more optimistic about an AIDS vaccine at this point in time than I have been probably in the last 10 years," Dr. Gary Nabel of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who led the study, said in a telephone interview. Two of the antibodies can attach to and neutralize 90 percent of the various mutations of the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, Nabel said. (Emphasis added.)
The article is published in Science.
We state in Animal Models in Light of Evolution:
Members of different species, thanks to the long reach of evolutionary processes, are differently complex. Even small differences between complex interactive systems can be of enormous significance. It is a mistake, then, to think of rodents as humans writ small, or indeed as humans writ simple. They are complex systems in their own right, with unique biological features that result from their having taken, in the course of evolutionary time, an evolutionary trajectory that differs from that taken by humans.
Research with animals has been ongoing for decades in hopes of finding a cure or vaccine for AIDS. Propaganda has flowed in an attempt to get more funding for this effort. Bertha Madras of the New England Regional Primate Center stated in testimony before The House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (published in Washington DC, US by the Government Printing Office, 1990, p1481-1489):
The course of AIDS in primates is virtually identical to that of humans.
This is blatantly false. There are vast differences between the way humans respond to HIV and the way nonhuman primates respond to HIV or SHIV or SIV. For example, Johnston 2000:
Monkeys: The viruses HIV-1, HIV-2, and the main SIV viruses used, SIVagm and SIVmac are very different. HIV-1 shares only 40% homology with the other viruses. HIV-2 and SIV share only 75% homology. HIV differs from SIV at the very important hypervariable region. SIV enters the cells of rhesus monkeys by binding to the CCR5 receptor without binding to the CD4 receptor. In humans, HIV must bind to both CCR5 and CD4 receptors. A single amino acid difference in the CCR5 terminus was responsible for the difference in binding. Another difference is that SIV isolates use the CCR5 coreceptor for virus uptake into cells. In 40–50% of HIV-infected humans, HIV that uses CCR5 predominates early and throughout the asymptomatic phase of a typical HIV infection, but a shift of tropism to CXCR4 is observed as these humans progress to AIDS. This shift has not been reported in SIV-infected macaques. (1)
As the Reuters new story illustrates, progress in preventing and treating AIDS will continue to come from human-based research.
1. M. I. Johnston, Mol Med Today 6, 267 (Jul, 2000).