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VGTI Florida Scientists Reveal a Mystery of Diminished Immune Function in HIV Infection


Results Show the Potential to Advance the Strategy for an Effective HIV Vaccine

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Scientists at the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI Florida™), a nonprofit immunological research institute, published a paper in the March 10th issue of Nature Medicine that reveals a major defect in a particular T cell subset, the follicular helper T cells, that is a component in the response to vaccines. Elias K. Haddad, Ph.D., Associate Member and Rafael Cubas, Ph.D., both from VGTI Florida, and their colleagues from the US and Europe, showed that previously unidentified dysfunction of these cells might have major implications on the ability of HIV infected patients to respond to vaccines.

Antibodies, which are secreted by B cells, are among the most effective weapons against infectious diseases such as HIV, influenza, and the common cold as they are the major therapeutic components that are produced in response to vaccines. Follicular helper T cells are the major inducers of this antibody response. The majority of HIV infected individuals fail to produce protective antibodies and therefore, have diminished responses to immunizations. Dr. Haddad and colleague identified components of the mechanism that are impaired during HIV infection. These results provide important insight into HIV pathogenesis and pave the way to the development of novel anti HIV therapies.

Dr. Haddad and his colleagues contend that the results of this investigation will have important implications for the design of novel vaccines and therapies against HIV infection. Dr. Haddad said, “Targeting follicular helper T cells in vaccine development may lead to the design of more effective vaccines for HIV.”

About VGTI Florida

VGTI Florida is a leading immunological research institute that is on an urgent mission to transform scientific discoveries into novel treatments and cures for devastating chronic illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and infectious diseases. VGTI Florida is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization located in the Tradition Center for Innovation in Port St. Lucie, Florida. For more information, please visit


VGTI Florida
Gina Alexis, 954-456-2966


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Information in this article was accurate in March 10, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.