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VGTI Florida Scientists Reveal Mystery of Diminished Immune Function in HIV


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Scientists at the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI Florida™), a nonprofit immunological research institute, published a paper in the March 10th issue of Nature Medicine that reveals a major defect in a particular T cell subset, the follicular helper T cells, that is a component in the response to vaccines. Elias K. Haddad, Ph.D., Associate Member and Rafael Cubas, Ph.D., both from VGTI Florida, and their colleagues from the US and Europe, showed that previously unidentified dysfunction of these cells might have major implications on the ability of HIV infected patients to respond to vaccines.

Antibodies, which are secreted by B cells, are among the most effective weapons against infectious diseases such as HIV, influenza, and the common cold as they are the major therapeutic components that are produced in response to vaccines. Follicular helper T cells are the major inducers of this antibody response. The majority of HIV infected individuals fail to produce protective antibodies and therefore, have diminished responses to immunizations. Dr. Haddad and colleague identified components of the mechanism that are impaired during HIV infection. These results provide important insight into HIV pathogenesis and pave the way to the development of novel anti HIV therapies.

Dr. Haddad and his colleagues contend that the results of this investigation will have important implications for the design of novel vaccines and therapies against HIV infection. Dr. Haddad said, “Targeting follicular helper T cells in vaccine development may lead to the design of more effective vaccines for HIV.”


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