The use of humanized BLT mice show promise in the fight to block HIV transmission, reveals study conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
The "BLT" name is derived from the fact that these designer mice are created one at a time by introducing human bone marrow, liver and thymus tissues into animals without an immune system of their own. Humanized BLT mice have a fully functioning human immune system and can be infected with HIV in the same manner as humans.
In the study, Paul Denton, instructor of medicine and colleagues provide data that validates humanized BLT mice as a preclinical experimental system that potentially can be used to develop and test the effectiveness of experimental HIV prevention approaches and topical microbicides.
The animal study reproduced the design and methods of a recent double-blind clinical study in 889 women of the topical microbicide tenofovir.
That study, the CAPRISA 004 trial, tested topical pre-exposure prophylaxis with 1 percent tenofovir which participants were instructed to apply vaginally twice daily. The 2.5 year trial resulted in an overall 39 percent reduction in instances of vaginal HIV transmission.
The new topical PrEP study by Denton and coauthors in humanized BLT mice reproduced the CAPRISA experimental design with tenofovir. The researchers say they "observed "88 percent protection of vaginal HIV-1 transmission," which was further confirmed by lack of detectable virus anywhere in the animals.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Virology.