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NIAID to advance B-cell approach to HIV vaccines
Date:5/20/2008

To advance underdeveloped approaches to designing a preventive HIV vaccine, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is launching a new program to foster the study of B cells, immune cells that can produce antibodies with the capacity to neutralize HIV. The $15.6 million, five-year program will strengthen and expand the scientific foundation of HIV vaccine research through a network of 10 research teams nationwide that will share resources, methods and data to accelerate progress.

In the immune system, B cells recognize key parts of microbes, called antigens. Then, in cooperation with T cellsparts of the immune system that kill cells infected by pathogensa reaction is triggered that leads B cells to produce antibodies, which can lock onto antigens and sweep them out of the body. HIV is devilishly good at fooling B cells and shielding itself from antibodies or changing its antigenic parts, so antibodies can rarely rid the body of the virus.

The new NIAID research program aims to uncover mechanisms that will enable scientists to outwit HIV and stimulate the B-cell production of long-lasting antibodies that can neutralize many strains of the virus; such antibodies are known as broadly neutralizing.

This program reflects our commitment to probe the fundamental science underlying HIV vaccine development, says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. The study of B cells and broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV will answer pressing, basic scientific questions and bring greater balance to our portfolio of HIV vaccine discovery research.

In recent years, investigator-initiated grants supported by NIAID have focused more heavily on T-cell based approaches to preventive HIV vaccines than on B-cell based ones. Many experts believe a successful HIV vaccine will probably need to activate both T cells and B cells; consequently, NIAIDs creation of the new B-cell research
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Contact: Laura Sivitz
sivitzl@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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