The number of people with compromised immune systems continues to rise, a population that cannot be protected against polio, the flu and other infectious agents with existing vaccines that depend on a normal T-cell response. As such, the researchers were motivated to develop CD4+ T-cell–independent therapeutic strategies to meet this growing need.
"While we'll need to replicate these findings in larger animal models, our studies indicate it may be feasible to develop vaccines for bioterrorism agents and transplant patients, as well as high-risk individuals who have defective CD4+ T-cell function," Dr. Kolls said. "We are excited about the results because they indicate that we can engineer a vaccine to create a new protection for those who are immunosuppressed."
In addition to Dr. Kolls, other authors include Mingquan Zheng, M.D.; Chad Steele, Ph.D., and Florencia McAllister, M.D., all of Children's Hospital and the department of pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Corrine Kliment, Christopher Crowe and Rekha R. Rapaka, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine M.D.-Ph.D. students; Karen A. Norris, Ph.D., department of immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Alistair J. Ramsey, Ph.D.; Myles B. Robichaux, M.S., Judd E. Shellito, M.D., and Paul Schwarzenberger, M.D., from Louisiana State University.