FDA researchers have discovered factors which may make certain strains of HIV-1 more likely to be transmitted through sexual contact than others. These findings, published in the December 1997 issue of Nature Medicine, may have important ramifications for the development of vaccines and post-HIV-1 exposure agents. The research was done in collaboration with scientists at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.
FDA's researchers at the agency's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Review (CBER), found that surface molecules or receptors for the M-tropic strains of the HIV-1 virus are functionally active on certain cells (Langerhans and macrophages) found in the body's mucosal tissues, and allow infection.
A related "News and Views" article published in the same issue of Nature Medicine notes that this finding provides very valuable insight into the mechanisms of HIV-1 transmission and selection processes. This understanding, in turn, could prove to be critical in more effectively targeting vaccine or post-exposure methods for combating HIV-1.