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Yerkes researchers propose ambitious new strategies for AIDS vaccine research
Date:8/7/2009

ould be to persuade the enemy not to attack you anymore," Silvestri explains. Alternative strategies may include development of AIDS vaccines that make infected individuals resistant to disease progression or resistant to the virus by reducing the number of cells the virus can infect.

Silvestri and Else propose that lessons learned from studying SIVs in their natural nonhuman primate hosts may provide a path to an effective AIDS vaccine. SIVs are found exclusively in African nonhuman primate species and represent the original source of human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1 and HIV-2). More than 40 species of African monkeys are infected in the wild with SIVs. Yet, virtually none with the exception of chimpanzees progresses to HIV/AIDS or gets sick. Evolution has enabled them to adapt to SIVs and co-exist peacefully with chronic infection.

"Nature is giving us a message," says Silvestri. "Figure out how these monkeys can deal with the virus, and then maybe you can get humans to do the same thing." In particular, Silvestri notes additional studies of sooty managbeys a mediumsized African monkey are critical for the AIDS vaccine effort and understanding why SIV infection does not progress to HIV/AIDS. SIV-infected sooty mangabeys develop a high viral load that does not increase their risk for developing AIDS. Additionally, the SIV virus is rarely transmitted from mothers to babies.

Silvestri also notes that with its large colonies of uninfected and naturally infected sooty mangabeys, "Yerkes has a unique resource for AIDS vaccine research and every effort needs to be made to preserve and expand this colony of animals."

For nearly eight decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates. Today, the center, as one of only e
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Contact: Emily Rios
erios@emory.edu
404-727-7732
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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