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New vaccine platform may fight infections with causes from influenza to bioterrorism

The development of effective vaccines for people with compromised immune systems may be feasible after all, according to a team of researchers, who demonstrated their approach could protect against pneumocystis pneumonia in mice lacking the same population of immune cells that HIV destroys in humans. The vaccine platform developed by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh researchers, working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Louisiana State University, suggests that the immune system can be primed to ward off other infections as well, such as those caused by the flu, smallpox or exposure to anthrax, even in patients who have the highest risk for infection.

Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Jay K. Kolls, MD, division chief of Pediatric Pulmonology, Laboratory of Lung Immunology and Host Defense at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-authors describe how their vaccine consisting of a specific antigen to pneumocystis and a molecule normally expressed on activated T-cells of the immune system offers protection from infection even in the absence of essential immune cells.

Pneumocystis is a common and very serious infection in people with deficient function of CD4+ T-cells, such as patients with transplanted organs, HIV and children with leukemia. Without normal reservoirs of these particular T-cells that are key to immune responses, these patients are unable to stave off an infection that in most people causes, at most, a bad cold.

The findings are being published in the December 1 issue of the journal. The manuscript will be available online after 5 p.m. Nov. 23, 2005, at www.jci.org.

"In addition to protection against pneumocystis, our vaccine platform may be effective in preventing viral illnesses such as influenza, in high-risk, immune-deficient individ
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Source:Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh


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