Researchers investigate vaccine options for common diseases
The research is guided by the ongoing search for more effective vaccines against the most common diseases, such as the flu, West Nile virus, dengue virus and hepatitis. It is mapping the ways each disease migrates, grows and is destroyed. This work also sheds light upon previously undiscovered ways of transmission and treatment, making the collaborative effort especially significant.
One of the cellular compounds under exploration, RIG-I, is material each of us has in every cell in our bodies, making the work significant for all, not just those who suffer from the diseases in question. The ways RIG-I is utilized by our bodies when cells are attacked and given vaccine is under study, and the team of scientists is trying to pinpoint the ways individuals respond differently to disease and vaccination.
In this way, mapping response opens the way for cellular therapy to trigger immunity — if a cell can be sickened and healed, and the exact mechanisms of each process are known, then curative cellular therapy can also be achieved.
Shawn Iadonato, chief scientific officer at Kineta, a Seattle-based biotechnology firm, said that “by triggering innate immunity, the viruses will be much less likely to resist the drug actions because they are targeted to the cell through the actions of many different genes and not to the virus itself, thus making drug resistance much harder if not impossible to achieve.”