Johns Hopkins Joins National Program to Study Emerging
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have received one of 14
biodefense grants from the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of
Health, to study how certain viral infectious diseases
trigger a response from the body's immune system.
Specifically, the program is designed to identify key
regions of viruses or other infectious agents, known as
epitopes, that are targeted or used by the cells of the
body's immune system to identify or attack infection.
As part of the national effort, called the Large-Scale
Antibody and T Cell Epitope Discovery Program, the Johns
Hopkins researchers will focus their study on several
viruses that cause human diseases, including hantavirus
pulmonary syndrome, dengue fever and yellow fever. The
total value of the Hopkins grant is approximately $7.3
Molecular biologist Thomas August, a Distinguished
Service Professor of
pharmacology, molecular sciences and
oncology at the
School of Medicine, is the lead Hopkins study
investigator. "Identifying epitopes is essential to our
basic understanding of the workings of the immune system
and how viruses trigger an immune response," he said.
"Ultimately, we hope to use this knowledge to develop
vaccines and diagnostic tools against these potentially
fatal and debilitating diseases."
As part of the study effort, the Johns Hopkins team
will collaborate with researchers based in tropical
regions, such as Singapore and Brazil.
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