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NIH awards institute $18.8 million for major infectious disease study

Researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology will take aim at several of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases — tuberculosis, malaria and dengue virus — in a five-year, $18.8 million federally funded set of projects seeking to make new inroads toward vaccines against the disorders.

The institute received four project awards totaling $18.8 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to fund the study, announced Dec. 17. The study also includes a component on smallpox, a deadly infectious disease eradicated worldwide, which remains a focus because of bioterrorism concerns.

Alessandro Sette, an expert on vaccine development and director of the La Jolla Institute's Center for Infectious Disease, will lead the study, which focuses on identifying epitopes — pieces of a virus or microbe that cause the body's immune system to launch an attack. Epitopes are important for protective immunity and are key to developing new and more effective vaccines.

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