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NIH funds $9.5 million for research on HIV and the human innate immune system
Date:6/15/2009

h Weinberg and his colleagues discovered that human beta defensins (hBDs), frontline innate defense molecules found in epithelial cells linings in the mouth, inhibit infections from HIV. How this happens in the mouth may explain the protection seen in the mouth against the virus when compared to other body sites.

FOUR RESEARCH PROJECTS

Through four research projects funded by the grant, researchers will examine changes in the frontline defense humans have against infections, such as hBDs and other innate immune molecules, found in the epithelial linings of the mouth, skin and urogenital track, which are constantly challenged by bacteria, fungi and viruses.

In two projects, researchers will design, produce and share altered forms of beta defensins. These altered hBDs will be used to study molecular interactions between beta defensins and key receptors on human cells that the research group had previously identified as important for bolstering innate defenses.

In the third and fourth projects, researchers will identify altered proteins in human epithelial cells from HIV-infected individuals on HAART, compare tissue samples from warts associated with HIV-positive (on HAART) and normal individuals, and find genetic differences between individuals, to explain why some people produce more hBDs than others that could better protect individuals from infections, such as HPV.

According to Weinberg, the projects are highly focused and collaborative and tap the expertise of researchers in innate immunity, defensin biology, structural chemistry, HIV immunology, dermatology, oral medicine and genetics.

Along with Weinberg, project leaders will be School of Medicine's Scott Sieg, Department of Medicine, and Tom McCormick, Department of Dermatology, and the School of Dental Medicine's Richard Jurevic, Department of Biological Sciences.

Weinberg and colleagues will identify changes in innate defense mechanis
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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