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Cat Aids vaccine's hope for humans
Cats
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 worldwide 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).


I think that one of the lessons to be learnt from our study is that HIV vaccines can and do work

Professor Oswald Jarrett

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.

Barrier protection

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.

Aids victim
Africa is the continent hardest hit by Aids
He said that in some parts of Africa, Asia and the Indian sub-continent 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 condoms.

"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 canot be transmitted from cats to humans.

See also:

22 May 01 | Health
04 Jun 01 | Health
05 Jun 01 | Health
02 Jul 99 | Aids
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