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Trudeau Institute announces latest discovery in vaccine development
Date:12/12/2011

can help B cells make antibodies. NKT cells are special because they recognize lipid (fat) antigens. In contrast, most helper T cells recognize protein antigens. Because many harmful microbes produce unique lipids, Dr. Leadbetter hypothesized that directing NKT cells to help B cells could provide a new way to induce antibodies against harmful microbes, which would complement existing vaccine technologies.

Dr. Leadbetter's new studies advance her hypothesis that lipid molecules may serve as promising vaccine components. The studies demonstrate that NKT cells can help B cells produce antibodies that recognize lipids, but this does not result in long-lived memory immune responses to the lipid antigens. Second, the studies demonstrate that the lipids, when used as adjuvants to enhance immune responses to more conventional protein antigens, induce memory immune responses against the protein target without inducing a memory response to the lipid itself. Together, these findings suggest a single lipid adjuvant could be used multiple times without losing its effect. The new research also characterizes how NKT cells help B cells produce antibodies when lipids are used as a vaccine adjuvant.

Lipids may become an important new class of adjuvants not only because of their intrinsic properties but also because of their capacity to activate NKT cells. According to Dr. Leadbetter, "These cells are really fascinating because they have both innate and adaptive immune cell properties. In other words, they act rapidly, but also specifically. NKT cell activation by certain lipids enhances the activation of other immune cells, thus acting as the body's natural adjuvant."

About Dr. Elizabeth Leadbetter

Dr. Leadbetter earned a B.S. with highest honors from Bates College (Lewiston, Maine) in 1993 and worked for ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corporation (Waltham, Mass.) before receiving her Ph.D. in microbiology/immunology from Boston University School
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Contact: Kim Godreau
kgodreau@trudeauinstitute.org
518-891-3080 x561
Trudeau Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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