Animal studies and HIV research

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7331.236a (Published 26 January 2002)
Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:236.2

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Animal studies are inaccurate for HIV research

  1. Ray Greek, president, Americans for Medical Advancment,
  2. Pandora Pound, freelance researcher (medical sociology)
  1. 2251 Refugio, Goleta, CA 93117, USA
  2. Radford Mill, Timsbury, Bath BA2 0QF
  3. Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, 4 Nickerson Street, Seattle, WA 98109, USA

    EDITOR—As Yamey et al highlighted, HIV will have killed 55 million people by the year 2010.1 Now, 20 years since the first appearance of the virus, is a good time to review the advances to date and identify promising avenues for future research.

    To estimate the amount of money spent on research on HIV and, within that, the amount spent on animal studies is difficult. Assessments of the efficacy of animal studies in HIV research are, however, easier to come by.

    Thomas Insel, former director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Center in Georgia, said: “[An animal model] that takes 12-14 years to develop doesn't sound to me to be ideal … I can't tell you what it is that those studies [with chimpanzees] have given us that has really made a difference in the way we approach people with this disease.”2 Animal models of HIV have been notoriously inaccurate for two reasons.

    Firstly, the immune response is intensely complicated and there are many disparities between the human immune response …

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