Tag: Immune System

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.

New Strategy for Combating Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

April 10, 1997

Using a method of surveying an entire mammalian genome, scientists have discovered that an immune system protein may play a previously unsuspected role in quelling the spread of tuberculosis infection. The finding has implications for devising new therapies for tuberculosis (TB), especially for the drug resistant strains that now affect some 50 million people world wide. The study, reported in the June 10 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Dr. Richard Young at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "We believe this is the first time that scientists have used a survey of the entire genome to identify genes turned on by infectious agents. We suspect that this method (strategy) will become a powerful new weapon in the war against other microbes, including HIV," says Dr. Young.

New Strains of BCG Could Lead to Better Vaccines and Cancer Therapy

January 12, 1996

Researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Boston's Children's Hospital have found a new way to rev up the engines of the mammalian immune system. They have taken an organism used worldwide to vaccinate against tuberculosis and packaged inside it mammalian genes that stimulate immune cell function. This achievement could lead to more effective vaccines for a broad range of human diseases and also-because the same organism is used in immunotherapy for bladder cancer-to safer, more effective cancer therapy.

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