AIDS research could shift into a higher gear thanks to an advance that for the first time allows HIV to fully replicate inside mouse cells.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco added a human protein called hp32 to mouse cells to help HIV properly assemble its genome into viral particles. The team is now creating whole mice with the hp32 gene, and looking for other factors that enhance viral infection.

A genetically-engineered mouse model of HIV infection would vastly accelerate AIDS research because genetics and immunology are so well understood in mice. These animals, for instance, would speed the development and testing of vaccine and drugs.

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