Rabies Vaccine Protects Against Monkey Version of HIV

FRIDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A rabies-based vaccine protects monkeys against SIV, the simian equivalent of HIV, a finding that may help in efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine, say U.S. researchers.

The team from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia used highly attenuated rabies virus vaccine vectors to protect monkeys against a type of SIV virus that causes a disease similar to AIDS in humans. Two vaccine strategies were used: a recombinant rabies virus expressing SIVmac239GagPol or a combination of that and a rabies virus expressing SIVmac238ENV.

Both strategies triggered production of neutralizing antibodies, CD8+ T-cell responses, and increased protection.

The researchers said they were surprised rabies-based vaccinations produced such strong anti-SIV responses in the monkeys.

"Although we can't yet block the infection, we showed that we can protect against disease. We also saw significant antibody activity against the virus, which is promising. In addition, this is a very simple approach that only took two immunizations," study leader Matthias J. Schnell, director of the Jefferson Vaccine Center, said in a news release.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal Vaccine.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about AIDS vaccines.

SOURCE: Thomas Jefferson University, news release, Dec. 14, 2009

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