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J Med Primatol. 2006 Aug;35(4-5):225-35.

Foamy virus infection in primates.

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  • 1Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Foamy viruses (FV), the oldest known genus of Retroviridae, are unique among the retroviruses in having no disease association. It is not known why FV are non-pathogenic while infection by their closest relatives can be deadly. This may be related to the estimated 60 million years of coevolution of FV and their primate hosts. We review the current state of knowledge of FV infection, including information about the sites of viral replication and host immune responses, and discuss the role these may play in establishing persistent yet non-pathogenic infections. Whether FV has pathologic consequences in immunosuppressed hosts has not been thoroughly investigated. As most primates in HIV/SIV research are coinfected with FV, investigation into possible interactions between these viruses is of interest. The use of FV as a vector for gene therapy is also discussed.

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