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“Mice and the Rhesus macaque were the most used animal models to understand HIV biology and to develop treatment..."

“Mice and the Rhesus macaque were the most used animal models to understand HIV biology and to develop treatment. Their contribution to our understanding of HIV/SIV biology was and still essential.

One of the priorities in the field is to optimise HIV treatments. For this purpose, we need to assess whether the therapeutic compounds go where they are needed in the body of the patients. We also need to know how stable they are in these compartments. For this, the animal models are essential. We are still trying to locate the cells that allow the virus to bounce back after treatment and a way to target them.

The discovery of broadly neutralising antibodies brings a hope for HIV cure. Indeed, proof of concept of their efficacy using animal models has been recently reported. Indeed, these antibodies are able to decrease the viral load in chronically infected animal even better than the antiretroviral drugs in use today. These antibodies can be used in high risk individuals as mean of preventing viral transmission. Based on results obtained using animal models, clinical trials using this antibodies are ongoing.

The use of animals in research is still necessary and unavoidable today to make progress regarding HIV. However, everything is done with precise regulations and rules. The European laws are very demanding and strict. Researchers must show that the use of animals is essential for obtaining the agreement of ethic committees. And only then, they can proceed to experimentation.  Finding a cure and a vaccine to stop the HIV pandemic requires the use of animal models."


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