Tag: Immune System

Researchers Zero in on New Drug Combination Strategy

July 15, 2003

The magic-bullet approach to drug discovery has fallen short in treating the majority of human ailments. Doctors often rely instead on combination therapies that harness the power of multiple drugs. Researchers recently reported the development of the first systematic approach to screen for novel combination drugs, identifying several new pairings with significant therapeutic promise.

Vaccine Technology Homes in on Cancer

November 21, 2002

Whitehead Institute Member Richard Young's lab has discovered a unique approach to vaccine development, which is now in phase II and III human clinical trials for the cancer-causing human papilloma virus.

Scientists Establish Link Between DNA Replication and Gene Expression

December 12, 2001

Faced with an infection, the human body’s first line of defense is to produce millions of antibodies to neutralize the infection. Orchestrating this defense is the human immune cell called the B cell, which has the amazing ability to produce an army of antibodies, each a replica of the other and each tailor made for a specific infectious agent. In fact, maternal and paternal copies of genes can produce antibodies that are not exact replicas, so the B cell must silence one of them to avoid disorders of the immune system. But how a B cell pulls off this stunt has been a mystery.

Researchers Identify Pathogen-specific Gene Response in Human Immune Cells

October 25, 2001

Using DNA microarray technology, researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have discovered that a type of human immune cell, known as a dendritic cell, initiates an immune response that is tailor-made for specific infectious organisms. The researchers found that dendritic cells turn on different sets of genes, or a signature pattern of gene response, depending on whether the organism is a bacteria, virus, or fungus. This study shows that even at the earliest stages of infection, the human body knows the nature of the infectious organism, or pathogen, and responds with a specific type of immune response to eliminate the pathogen.

AIDS: Taming the Modern Plague: High Schoolers Learn About Frontiers in HIV Research

February 15, 2001

At the Whitehead Winter Lecture Series for High School Students, approximately 140 students from 40 area schools—and four students travelling from Singapore for the program—will hear about scientists’ efforts toward creating better therapies to combat HIV.

Dangerous Beauty: Fungal Flowers Offer Clues to Biofilm Formation on Medical Implants

February 1, 2001

At first glance, yeast growing on a jello-like medium look breathtakingly beautiful—like gossamer flowers with radial spokes emanating from a central hub (see cover of Science). But a florid fungus can be a dangerous beauty, able to coat medical implants with thin films causing serious complications in patients with hip and valve replacements. In fact, every year thousands of deaths can be traced to fungal infections around medical implants.

Scientists Discover Potent Protein that Prevents HIV Infection

January 11, 2001

In a promising advance in the war against AIDS, scientists have designed a potent, new protein that can prevent HIV infection by blocking its entry into human cells. The protein, called 5-Helix and designed to bind to a region in the HIV coat protein gp41, is able to prevent a wide range of HIV strains from fusing to the cell membrane and thereby infecting it.

Recombinant Protein May Play Key Role in Treating Immunocompromised Patients

January 17, 2000

In a promising new advance in vaccine development, scientists have identified a protein fragment that is exceptionally potent in eliciting an immune response against infected cells and cancer cells. When scientists injected a vaccine containing this fragment into mice lacking a healthy immune system, the animals were able to mount a cellular immune response despite their compromised immune system.

Scientists Discover New Candidate Drugs for Treating HIV Infection

October 1, 1999

Scientists have achieved a major step toward finding a new class of oral drugs to treat HIV infection. They have identified a class of compounds that prevent HIV infection by stopping the virus at its port of entry into the cell. Unlike currently used drugs that target HIV at other points during its life cycle — after it has already infected the cell — these compounds lock into a vulnerable "pocket" in the HIV's coat protein, preventing its fusion with cell membranes and thereby its ability to enter and infect cells.

First Images of Key Viral Protein Could Lead to New Strategies for Human Gene Therapy

September 12, 1997

New images of an L-shaped molecule on the surface of a mouse leukemia virus could help scientists realize the promise of human gene therapy—the effort to cure disease by inserting genes directly into human cells. The images, published in the September 12 issue of Science, show the crystal structure of a piece of the virus's envelope protein—the piece required to recognize and bind to receptors on the surface of a mammalian cell.

Discovery of Genetic Pathways May Provide New Ways to Combat Candida Infections

September 5, 1997

A new study has uncovered the genetic wiring diagram underlying the infectiousness of Candida albicans, a fungus that causes thrush in babies, vaginal infections in women, and life-threatening infections in chemotherapy and AIDS patients. The study, led by Dr. Gerald R. Fink, Director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, reveals that one key to Candida's infectiousness lies in its ability to switch from a rounded form to filamentous forms. When the wiring diagram underlying this switch is inactivated, Candida infections are no longer deadly in mice.

Whitehead Structural Biologists Discover Vulnerable Region in HIV Envelope Protein

April 18, 1997

For the first time scientists have a high-resolution picture of the protein fragment that enables HIV (the AIDS virus) to invade human cells—work that has immediate implications for new drug design. In the April 18 issue of Cell magazine, Dr. Peter S. Kim and his colleagues at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute present the crystal structure of a key fragment of the HIV envelope protein.

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