vaccine's hope for humans
A vaccine against cat
Aids has given hope for a human vaccine
Scientists have found a vaccine to prevent the spread of the
feline form of HIV in cats and believe it shows a human vaccine
is possible. They also hope that within the next five years
they will have a sponge, gel or pessary that can be used to
help stop the spread of the disease. A conference in Edinburgh,
the Sixth European Conference on Experimental Aids Research,
is set to hear from top scientists around the globe about
the fight against the disease which kills millions world-wide
each year. Professor Oswald Jarrett, of Glasgow Veterinary
School, said international scientists had already found a
successful vaccine against the feline form of HIV - feline
immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Now the veterinary scientists are hoping
the work can be channelled into finding a vaccine to prevent
the disease in humans.
Professor Jarrett said although the cat vaccine was not suitable
in humans, they had proved the principle that it was possible
to vaccinate against the disease. He told BBC News Online
that scientists in Italy had successfully vaccinated a number
of cats against the disease and they had remained immune,
despite being exposed to the virus.
"We have shown that you can vaccinate
against FIV. We know that our vaccines can do that. "I
think that one of the lessons to be learnt from our study
is that HIV vaccines can and do work." The international
vets are now trying to come up with a commercially viable
vaccine to protect the pets.
The meeting will also hear that hopes are high that an effective
barrier method against HIV and other sexually transmitted
diseases could be in production within the next five years.
Dr Alan Stone, of Medical Scientific Advisory Services Ltd,
said that, as most of the 5.5 million new HIV cases each year
were the result of unprotected heterosexual intercourse, the
race was on to find some way of preventing the spread.
Africa is the continent hardest hit
He said that in some parts of Africa, Asia and the Indian
subcontinent it was very difficult to get the men to use condoms.
But he said cheap and effective gels, foams, creams, suppositories
or impregnated sponges could be the answer.
"None of us believes this is the magic bullet, but we
do believe it is an additional choice which can be used alongside
By 2006 we hope the first one will be ready to go on the market."
Conference chairman Dr Harvey Holmes said the meeting would
also be hearing about the global scale of Aids and its impact,
particularly in Africa and the search for a cure.
FIV cannot be transmitted from cats to