Immunology/ Rheumatology Professor Harry Schroeder Jr., M.D., Ph.D., was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to explore development of an HIV vaccine based on a type of white blood cell called the B-cell.
B-cells make antibodies that target and remove dangerous microbes; T-cells kill cells infected by those microbes. Though recent NIAID-supported research has focused heavily on T-cell-based approaches, many experts now believe a successful HIV vaccine will need to activate both T-cells and B-cells.
Schroeder is studying ways to outwit HIV by stimulating the B-cell production of protective antibodies that can neutralize many strains of the virus. His lab is testing genetically engineered mice to see if the protective antibodies can be generated more quickly and pooled in the blood to fight HIV.
“If we can figure out a way to permit these types of antibodies to remain in the system, at least during the time of immunization, it may be possible to create an effective HIV vaccine,” Schroeder said.
"The study of B-cells and broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV will answer pressing, basic, scientific questions and bring greater balance to our portfolio of HIV vaccine-discovery research,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci.
The other NIAID grants went to B-cell researchers at The Scripps Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, University of California, Irvine, University of Florida in Gainesville, Weill Cornell Medical College, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, University of Rochester and the University of Colorado at Denver.