April 2012 will mark 25 years since President Ronald Reagan declared AIDS as public health enemy No. 1. Iowa State is fortunate enough to have a faculty member working on a vaccine to prevent humans from contracting the disease altogether.
Dr. Michael Cho, associate professor of Biomedical Sciences, has been closely researching HIV-1 for much of his career in hopes of developing a vaccine.
AIDS is a disease of the immune system and is characterized by increased ability to be harmed by opportunistic infections caused by the retrovirus HIV. It can be transmitted through blood or blood products that enter the body’s bloodstream and especially by sexual contact or contaminated hypodermic needles.
“We are focusing on eliciting humoral immunity. A vaccine would be cost effective, and it’s at the level of prevention rather than treatment,” Cho said. “We’re working on a vaccine for humans, but we use small animals to evaluate the immune response. The goal is to induce the immune response that will recognize all types of the virus, that’s where the difficulty is.”