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Scientists Use Live Bacteria to Fight HIV
Date:7/18/2011

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., July 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Scientists at Osel Inc. and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a new way to prevent HIV infection by genetically enhancing the ability of naturally occurring vaginal bacteria to block viral transmission. Bioengineered bacteria introduced into the vaginal cavity of macaques—a commonly used experimental primate—reduced the transmission of simian HIV (SHIV) by nearly two thirds.

The novel approach takes advantage of lactobacilli, which are beneficial bacteria that play an important role in vaginal health and help protect women against a variety of sexually transmitted infections. The Osel team engineered the common strain Lactobacillus jensenii to pump out therapeutic quantities of the HIV inhibitor cyanovirin-N, which is a protein originally discovered by NCI scientists screening natural substances for antiviral activity.

In a study just published online in advance of publication in the Nature journal Mucosal Immunology, the team showed that vaginal administration of Lactobacillus expressing CV-N to rhesus macaques could reduce the transmission of SHIV (a virus developed for research that combines critical components of HIV with the ability to infect monkeys) by 63 percent after repeated challenges with virus. A reduction in the viral load was also seen in infected macaques that received the Lactobacillus product, called MucoCept.

"We were excited to see this reduced rate of transmission in the macaque model," said Dr. Laurel Lagenaur, the leader of the Osel team. "Because this Lactobacillus strain is likely to colonize women at a higher rate than macaques, we could see an even bigger reduction in the
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SOURCE Osel Inc.
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