National Institute of Allergy andInfectious Diseases (NIAID) http://www.niaid.nih.gov
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
A better understanding of the human immune response to potential agents of bioterror and rapid development of countermeasures such as vaccines and therapies are among the objectives of a new program announced today by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “NIH is dedicated to supporting research that will help in fighting the war on terror,” says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
NIAID has named five Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense. Approximately $85 million over four-and-a-half years will support research at
“A particular emphasis of these cooperative centers will be moving new findings about immune system function out of the lab and into clinical trials,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “The flexibility of the program will allow research projects to be redirected quickly as new information is generated in the lab and the clinic.”
Investigators funded through the new program will form a biodefense research network with a focus on the human immune system. It is much more difficult to perform studies of immunity in humans than in animal models. Human volunteers cannot be deliberately exposed to agents of bioterror to determine the effectiveness of a trial vaccine, for example. Also, differences in human age, sex, race and overall health all influence immune system function.
The absence of necessary technologies is a significant barrier in human immune function research, says Helen Quill, Ph.D., of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation (DAIT). To overcome this obstacle, researchers at the cooperative centers will, among other measures, develop new ways to get information from single immune cells, so that very small tissue and blood samples can be tested. Imaging technologies will also be developed to allow non-invasive, real-time views of the
“One of the key features of these new centers will be the high degree of information-sharing by all the members,” notes Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of DAIT. “Ultimately, we hope to fully characterize human immune responses to disease-causing organisms and develop therapies that strengthen these responses, whether the organisms are deliberately released or arise naturally in the environment,” he says. “The cooperative centers will encourage the kind of synergy needed to meet this goal.”
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of
infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News
releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research,
and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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Last Updated September 17, 2003