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

hat vaccines can be constructed that will focus the immune response in the correct way. "For many of the major infections for which we lack an effective vaccine, the causative microbes are extremely complex and contain hundreds or even thousands of potential individual targets or epitopes," said Dr. Porcelli. "The efforts being undertaken by the La Jolla Institute group are going to help sort out this complex mixture of good and bad (epitope) targets, and will help many researchers working toward development of vaccines against some of the most deadly infections in the world today."

Dr. Sette said significant advances in bioinformatics and genomic sequencing over the last 10 years will enable the La Jolla Institute team to seek more comprehensive epitope identification than ever before. "The genomes of microbes of very large sizes are now available," he said, referring to biomedical advances that have allowed the entire molecular blueprint of many viruses and microbes to be mapped. In addition, bioinformatic prediction, which uses computer modeling and algorithms for disease research, has been greatly refined, he said.

"It is now technologically possible to tackle some of the biggest pathogens, such as malaria and TB (tuberculosis), with a truly unbiased screen that could reveal many exciting new vaccine and diagnostic candidates," said Dr. Sette, who is principal investigator on the tuberculosis and dengue virus contracts and co-investigator on the malaria contract.

Shane Crotty, Ph.D., co-investigator on the tuberculosis contract, described epitopes as what the immune system "sees" on an infected cell and which causes it to attack and eliminate the cell. "By understanding which epitopes cause an immune attack, scientists can conceivably use those epitopes to develop a vaccine to ward off illness in this case to tuberculosis." Researchers from UC San Diego and FIOCRUZ, a health institute in Brazil, will also collaborate on the tub
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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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