Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Twenty years of monkey research boosts AIDS knowledge


Research on an AIDS-like disease in monkeys continues to help scientists understand problems such as how HIV causes AIDS, how the virus "hides" from the immune system and how the disease might be prevented or treated, two decades after the human and monkey diseases were identified.

"These animals have been indispensable for understanding how the virus works and in working toward vaccines," said Murray Gardner, professor emeritus of medical pathology at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine.

About 300 researchers from around the world will reflect on those past achievements and discuss new data when they gather Sept. 8-11 in Monterey, Calif., for the 20th Annual Symposium on Nonhuman Primate Models for AIDS. The California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) at the University of California, Davis, is hosting the conference.

More than 20 years ago, scientists at the UC Davis primate center were confronted with a mysterious and deadly outbreak of infections in their monkeys. Showing signs of weakened immune systems, the monkeys were succumbing to a variety of infections that normally did not cause disease.

At about the same time, a deadly new disease known as AIDS was making the headlines. Bearing a striking resemblance to the monkey syndrome, the human disease also led to opportunistic infections, wasting and death.

Scientists would later discover that the monkey disease, called simian AIDS, was caused by the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a close relative of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes human AIDS.

The striking similarities between the human and simian disorders and the viruses that cause them enabled scientists to gain otherwise unobtainable insights into the origins and progression of human AIDS -- work that continues today.

Today, scientists at the UC Davis center are using the SIV monkey model of AIDS to study ways to vaccinate against HIV transmission from adult to adult and from mother to offspring. They are also tackling the problem of eliminating latent virus -- virus that is inactive and "hiding" inside cells in the body -- in individuals taking medications to fight the virus. Finally, they are testing the ability of microbicides to prevent sexual transmission of SIV/HIV.

"The monkey disease is a remarkably accurate facsimile of the human disease," said Gardner.

An authority on retroviruses and the intersection of the simian and human immunodeficiency viruses, Gardner will give the keynote address at the conference, highlighting important contributions of nonhuman primate research to knowledge of AIDS.

According to Gardner, some of the key achievements made by researchers studying immunodeficiency viruses in monkeys include: gaining an in-depth knowledge of the natural history of both the human and simian AIDS viruses, including the potential for and mechanisms of cross-species transmission; demonstrating the feasibility of an AIDS vaccine by showing that monkeys became resistant to simian AIDS when injected with weakened versions of the virus; demonstrating that SIV alone, rather than environmental or other factors, causes simian AIDS; defining the mechanisms of HIV/SIV transmission between hosts; and identifying the role of antibodies and cellular immunity, especially CD8 cells -- a specific immune system component -- in fighting the virus.

The symposium traces its origins to 1983, when about 30 researchers from the then seven U.S. primate research centers met at Tulane University to discuss what was then a poorly understood, spontaneously occurring immunodeficiency syndrome of macaque monkeys. The monkey disease had many strong similarities to AIDS, which was first described in 1981. HIV was first identified in 1983 and SIV in 1985.

Gardner said the founders of the primate centers could never have imagined that monkeys, specifically the Asian rhesus macaque, would play such a critical role in fighting the global AIDS pandemic. Over the past 20 years, AIDS has sickened or killed nearly 40 million people. An estimated 68 million people will have died as a result of AIDS by 2020.

Today, more than half of the research done at the federally funded primate research centers is AIDS-related. In fact, directors of the primate centers maintain they are unable to meet the demand for monkeys for AIDS research and other work because of limited resources. The recent focus on bioterrorism research has further strained an already tight supply.

Patricia Bailey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>