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Preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS with humanized BLT mice
Date:5/18/2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. The more than 2.7 million new HIV infections recorded per year leave little doubt that the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to spread globally. That's why there's the need for safe, inexpensive and effective drugs to successfully block HIV transmission.

A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine further validates the use of humanized BLT mice in the fight to block HIV transmission. The "BLT" name is derived from the fact that these designer mice are created one at a time by introducing human bone marrow, liver and thymus tissues into animals without an immune system of their own. Humanized BLT mice have a fully functioning human immune system and can be infected with HIV in the same manner as humans.

The pioneering developers of the humanized BLT mouse model are Paul Denton, PhD, instructor of medicine and J. Victor Garcia-Martinez, PhD, professor of medicine in the UNC Center for Infectious Diseases and the UNC Center for AIDS Research.

In the study published online Wednesday, May 18 in the Journal of Virology, Denton and colleagues provide data that validates humanized BLT mice as a preclinical experimental system that potentially can be used to develop and test the effectiveness of experimental HIV prevention approaches and topical microbicides.

The animal study reproduced the design and methods of a recent double-blind clinical study in 889 women of the topical microbicide tenofovir. That study, the CAPRISA 004 trial, tested topical pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with 1 percent tenofovir which participants were instructed to apply vaginally twice daily. The 2.5 year trial resulted in an overall 39 percent reduction in instances of vaginal HIV transmission. Among women who self-reported as strongly adhered to the recommended instructions the protection figure climbed to 54 percent.

The new topical PrEP study by Denton and coauthors in humanized
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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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