IMMUNOLOGISTS HOPE they're the kind of gifts that keep on giving. In late December, teams at two centers reported initial success in using two new mouse models of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. They hope the models will bear fruit this year in understanding still-murky aspects of the virus' workings and—perhaps— provide the necessary tools to combat it (Science 1988;242:1665-1670, 1684-1686).
If the models prove as useful as these early studies suggest, they may unblock the logjam of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) immunologic research that arises from both the scarcity of primates and their limitations. Chimpanzees can be infected with HIV, but they do not develop disease.
"These approaches are useful," says Jay A. Levy, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "They could eliminate the widespread use of primates," adds Levy, but he says he doubts that vaccine work can be completed without using animals