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Infectious disease research in US receives new funding

4 Jan 2010

Paul Chinnock

Source: La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (see original article)

Immunological research focusing on dengue, malaria and tuberculosis will be supported by new grants from the US National Institutes of Health.

The research, to be conducted at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology in California, will focus on identifying epitopes – pieces of a virus or microbe against which the human immune system can launch an attack. The La Jolla researchers aim to identify epitopes that could be potential targets in the development of vaccines.

Alessandro Sette, an expert on vaccine development and director of the La Jolla Institute’s Center for Infectious Disease, will lead the research.

The NIH funding, totalling $18.8 million over five years, will also include a component on smallpox. While this disease has been eradicated worldwide, there remain concerns that it could be used as a form of bioterrorism.

Other infectious diseases currently receiving the attention of La Jolla researchers include West Nile virus, adenoviruses, avian influenza and anthrax – see the Center’s web page.

Most of the Center’s focus having till now been on emerging disease threats and bioterrorism, the addition to its research portfolio of dengue, malaria and TB – three of the most important neglected infections – is a welcome development. It is yet another sign that the infectious disease of poverty are moving up the priority list for research.

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