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Virginia Bioinformatics Institute to model immune responses to gut pathogens
Date:10/8/2010

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a $10.6 million grant to researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) and collaborators to determine how the human immune system responds to infection by pathogens of the gut. The funding will be used to apply mathematical modeling to the study of immune responses to gut pathogens.

"The Center for Modeling Immunity to Enteric Pathogens will generate new hypotheses based on computer simulations of the immune responses in the gut and perform pre-clinical and clinical experiments that will reveal how the immune system works when intestinal pathogens invade the human body," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, principal investigator of the center, associate professor at VBI, and leader of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Group in VBI's CyberInfrastructure Division.

"We want to use powerful computer simulations to uncover the mechanisms of action underlying immune responses to intestinal pathogens and accelerate the discovery of drug targets suitable for the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders caused by gut pathogens, such as persistent diarrhea, gastric cancer, inflammation, and ulcers," said Bassaganya-Riera.

The research project team will work with a wide range of collaborators and engage the infectious disease and immunology communities to disseminate user-friendly mathematical and computational models for the study of human immunity to infection or vaccination.

"Food- and water-borne illnesses that arise from infections with gastrointestinal pathogens cause an enormous health burden around the globe," said Richard Guerrant, director for the Center of Global Health in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. "Escalating medical costs, lost productivity, and premature death are linked to annual outbreaks of
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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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