Recent findings seem to have found one possible cure for HIV, and apparently the cure might have been with us all along – inside our cats. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus The key is in FIV, the feline immunodeficiency virus. Because this virus type is a distant cousin of the human version, they have some similar chemical sequences, and this, in turn, helps in testing out new ideas. Vaccine strategy It all started with scientists using this affinity between FIV and HIV to test a new kind of HIV vaccine. It’s based on T-Cell response – specifically, to create an immune response from the T-Cells, which can wipe out FIV. The idea there was to simply see how this happened mechanically, and then find the human analog. The real key was in the T-peptides, which are small pieces of protein that seem to activate how T-Cells detect and attack infected cells. The big surprise This is where the big surprise came in. While testing peptides that could activate an immune response, they found one that not only obliterated FIV cells, but also activated an immune response against HIV as well. What they found was that there seemed to be a part of the FIV chemical sequence that seemed to be the same for many HIV/FIV-type viruses across many different species. Even better, this particular chemical sequence can’t mutate, as it is key to the virus’ survival. Unusual situation This development is rather unusual on many fronts. For one, a vaccine using this sort of process has never been developed, and therefore, this must be tested fully. However, the fact that it works may mean that there is hope in sight for people who are infected with HIV, or are in areas or living lifestyles that make them prone to HIV infection. Another issue that has to be cleared up is that while this test confirms a link between HIV and FIV, it does not mean that FIV can cross over and infect humans. More testing has to be done of course, and now, they are including the monkey version of HIV into the tests to see if they can get similar results. Some scientists also cautiously point out that normally, vaccines are made using parts of the virus itself, it’s just that it takes time to figure out which part of the virus is necessary to create the immune reaction the body needs. And that’s where the FIV research comes in, if it can target all possible sections of the virus chemical sequence that do not mutate, then a proper vaccine can be developed that can attack the virus on multiple fronts, creating a very effective cure. It should be noted, then, that the cure for HIV technically wouldn’t come from the FIV itself, but from observing how protein and peptide reactions will affect FIV, as it is similar enough to HIV to make proper testing possible.