Horse disease could help AIDS

Chinese scientists are studying a unique vaccine development for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) based on research of an effective antidote to a fatal horse disease similar to AIDS.

Scientists from China's top acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) research body the AIDS Reference Lab of China's Academy of Preventive Medicine and the Harbin Veterinary Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), discoverer of the Equine Infectious Animial (EIA) vaccine, have reached an agreement to jointly launch the research program.

Shao Yiming, director of the AIDS Reference Lab, said his group will launch gene variation research on the mechanism of the China-developed EIAV to guide the HIV vaccine development.

Shao, a researcher, told Xinhua that EIA is described as "horse AIDS" by some experts as two kinds of viruses belonging to the same family and genus in taxonomy. Both are transmitted mainly via blood.

Researches indicate that at least half of the gene structure of AIDS and EIA is exactly the same and their appearance is almost indistinguishable under an electron microscope.

Shao said that, among seven kinds of viruses that could lead to such defective immune system diseases as human AIDS and animal AIDS, only EIA is a killer. The EIA vaccine is expected to provide a research model for developing a human AIDS vaccine.

Feng Jinglan, deputy head of the Animal Husbandry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, noted that in the past dozen of years a large number of horses have been injected with the EIA vaccine, which has resulted in total control of the deadly horse disease.

Shao said that his lab will start research on the EIA vaccine's gene variation mechanism, make a comparison between EIA vaccine-provoked immune function with the immune functioning of AIDS patients who have survived for a long time.

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Horse disease could help AIDS