FELLOWSHIP FUNDS EMORY MICROBIOLOGIST'S STUDY OF DENDRITIC CELL ROLE
IN HIV IMMUNE RESPONSE
American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) Awards Address Enigmas
in HIV Treatment and Vaccine Development
Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) has awarded Emory microbiologist
Sang-Moo Kang, Ph.D., a fellowship to study how dendritic cells might
be used to improve the immune response against AIDS. Dr. Kang theorizes
that by increasing the number of dendritic cells, which play an important
role in priming immune responses and establishing immune memory, he
can enhance the immune response to HIV. The findings also could prove
useful in developing an effective AIDS vaccine.
Dendritic cells have a potent
ability to capture foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses and
present the captured substances to naïve cells, thus inducing primary
immune responses and establishing immune memory. After capturing foreign
invaders in the skin and mucosal tissues, the dendritic cells migrate
to the spleen or lymph nodes, where they stimulate immune-inducing cells.
Dr. Kang plans to anchor
a dendritic-cell growth factor in the laboratory to HIV virus-like particles
(VLPs), which consist of the main components of the HIV virus but not
its genetic material. He then will immunize mice with the dendritic
cell/HIV-VLP combination to stimulate the growth of dendritic-cell populations
in the spleen and lymph nodes and enhance immune responses to the HIV
virus. If the strategy proves successful, he could potentially adapt
it to the development of an HIV vaccine.
The $99,000 amFAR fellowship
is one of several amFAR awards nationally totaling $760,000 for new
research on HIV/AIDS. The research will tackle some of the difficult
and unanswered questions still surrounding the virus.
"amFAR's new awards target
areas of HIV/AIDS research that have challenged scientists," said Dr.
Jay Levy, chairman of amfAR's basic research committee and scientific
advisory committee and director, Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus
Research at the University of California, San Francisco. "The amfAR-supported
researchers plan to study the unique properties of the AIDS virus in
order to develop more effective vaccines and drug treatments and to
better understand changes in the immune system that take place after