Researchers at the North Carolina State University College ofVeterinary Medicine and Burroughs Wellcome Co. havedeveloped a cat-in-mouse animal model to screen for drugsthat can combat HIV.

The model was created by engrafting immune system cellsfrom cats into SCID mice, which lack a functioning immunesystem. The resulting mice have a feline immune system andcan be injected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV),which belongs to the same subfamily of retroviruses as HIV.The infected SCID-fe mice can then be used to screen drugs forAIDS.

The research was reported at a Sept. 7 meeting of FIVresearchers at the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Wayne Tompkins, who led the NCSU side of the research,said it would be cheaper to screen AIDS drugs using SCID-femice than SCID-hu mice, which contain human immunesystems. The cost differential is in part due to the expensivecontainment facilities necessary for animals containing HIV.

NCSU in Raleigh is applying for patents on the SCID-fe model,which will be available for licensing. A Burroughsspokeswoman said the company had not yet determined how itwould use the model. Burroughs, based in Research TrianglePark, N.C., is a subsidiary of The Wellcome Foundation Ltd. ofLondon. -- Karen Bernstein

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.