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NIH awards La Jolla Institute $18.8 million for major infectious disease study
Date:12/17/2009

SAN DIEGO (December 17, 2009) Researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology will take aim at several of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases tuberculosis, malaria and dengue virus -- in a five-year, $18.8 million federally-funded set of projects seeking to make new inroads toward vaccines against the disorders.

The Institute received four project awards totaling $18.8 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to fund the study. The study also includes a component on smallpox, a deadly infectious disease eradicated worldwide, which remains a focus due to bioterrorism concerns.

Alessandro Sette, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert on vaccine development and director of the La Jolla Institute's Center for Infectious Disease, will lead the study, which focuses on identifying epitopes -- pieces of a virus or microbe that cause the body's immune system to launch an attack. Epitopes are important for protective immunity and are key to developing new and more effective vaccines.

Several prominent immunology researchers from around the country praised the projects as promising and timely. "A recent NIH workshop identified the lack of epitope information as a key "missing link" in the search for effective malaria vaccines," said John T. Harty, Ph.D, an endowed professor in Microbial Immunology at the University of Iowa, who studies basic immunology that can inform vaccine design. "This new support for Dr. Sette and colleagues, based on their proven track record in epitope identification, is timely and addresses major knowledge gaps in the design of effective vaccines."

Steven A. Porcelli, M.D., a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, emphasized the importance of the work of the La Jolla Institute team in narrowing down the list of epitopes so t
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Contact: Bonnie Ward
contact@liai.org
619-303-3160
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Source:Eurekalert

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