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Issue No. 30 | July 18, 2008

News and Features

B-Cell Exhaustion Influences Immune Response to HIV

HIV-related immune system deterioration is contributed to by the exhaustion of the CD4 and CD8 T-cells that fight HIV. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have recently shown that B cells also experience a similar type of exhaustion. This B-cell specific exhaustion may contribute to the poor antibody response to HIV seen in infected individuals.

NIAID's vaccine research program is currently working to expand the understanding of B-cells, in order to slow HIV disease progression by developing effective therapeutic vaccines.

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New Infant Formula May Prevent HIV Transmission via Breastfeeding

Researchers have discovered that freeze drying a certain strain of bacteria may help prevent HIV transmission via breast milk. When ingested, the bacteria Lactobacillus colonizes the GI tract and has the ability to capture the HIV virus, preventing infection. The risk of disease transmission in infants via breast milk may be reduced if infants are fed a formula containing freeze-dried Lactobacillus prior to initiating breastfeeding.

The lack of refrigeration in areas where HIV-infected mothers have no alternative to breastfeeding has posed a great challenge for the shelf life of lactobacilli. However, this new freeze-drying method keeps the Lactobacillus strain viable even during storage in a warm climate.

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