Dr. Janet Yamamoto from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine was quoted in a press release this week saying, “One major reason why there has been no successful HIV vaccine to date is that we do not know which parts of HIV to combine to produce the most effective vaccine." Her research team is trying to develop a vaccine that stimulates T cells from people infected with HIV to respond to the feline (FIV) form of the virus. They are working toward that goal by searching for sections of the FIV virus that can activate T cells to attack HIV without mutating.
Dr. Yamamoto's team obtained T-cells from people who were HIV-positive and exposed the cells to peptides needed by both HIV and FIV to survive and compared the reactions. Through these experiments, they discovered a specific region of the feline immunodeficiency virus that stimulated the T cells to kill the HIV. Interestingly, the same peptide region appears in many versions of AIDS-like viruses across species suggesting that the region is necessary for the survival of the virus.
Dr. Yamamoto said, "To date, a T-cell-based vaccine has not been used to prevent any viral diseases. So we are now employing an immune system approach that has not been typically utilized to make a vaccine.
For more information on FIV:
Sanou MP, Roff SR, Mennella A, Sleasman JW, Rathore MH, Yamamoto JK, Levy JA. Evolutionarily Conserved Epitopes on Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcriptases Detected by HIV-1-Infected Subjects. Journal of Virology. 87(18): 10004-10015, 2013.
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I am a straight man who is HIV positive. Cats do not cure HIV.
You are correct, cats cannot cure HIV. But the research here suggests that the development of a vaccine based on FIV may help to activate T-cells to kill the HIV virus in humans.