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Rodent of the Week: Preventing HIV infection

Rodent_of_the_week A study in mice raises the possibility of preventing HIV transmission in humans. Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that administering antiretroviral drugs to mice prior to HIV exposure protected against intravenous and rectal transmission of the virus. The study was published online this week in PLoS One.

The mice used in the study were humanized, meaning they were transplanted with human bone marrow, liver and thymus cells, which results in a functioning human immune system. In the study, the mice either received no drugs or were given commonly prescribed antiretroviral drug therapy and then were exposed to HIV either rectally or intravenously at a higher level than would occur in a typical human.

None of nine treated mice exposed rectally showed signs of HIV infection. But 12 of the 19 control mice became infected. Among the mice exposed intravenously, all six of the control mice became infected but seven of the eight treated mice were protected against infection.

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