Research highlight

Gene transfer protects monkeys against SIV infection

Nature Medicine

May 18, 2009

Delivering an antibody-coding gene to the muscle of monkeys protects themagainst the infection simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), according to research published online this week in Nature Medicine.

Finding a way to elicit persisting antibodies with broad neutralizingactivity against HIV would be a major breakthrough for vaccine development,but progress on this front has been very scarce. Using the SIV primatemodel, Philip Johnson and his colleagues have taken a different approach:delivery of a gene that expresses antibodies with predetermined SIV specificity. With this approach, the muscle that the gene is delivered to produces antibodies that passively travel to the bloodstream and specifically target SIV.

With this strategy, the team elicited long-lasting neutralizing activity in the serum of macaques, leading to complete protection against intravenous challenge with virulent SIV. This approach could hold promise as an alternative approach to an HIV vaccine.

doi: 10.1038/nm.1967

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