The Infectious Diseases Unit provides unique expertise and a collaborative
setting for the study of infectious and immunologic diseases affecting humans,
at the whole animal, organ, cellular, and molecular levels. The research
projects in this unit include pathogenesis of SIV/HIV and opportunistic
infections, antiviral immunity, immunity of the genital tract, mucosal
transmission of viruses, immunodeficiencies/prophylactics, antiviral therapies,
vaccines, viral diagnostics and epidemiology. The Unit scientists are intensely
involved in studies directly related to HIV vaccine development.
SAIDS (Simian AIDS) is an immune deficiency disease that
results from an SIV infection (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus), just as AIDS in
humans results from HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Macaque monkeys that
have SAIDS are ideal models to study the prevention of HIV infection and
pathology of AIDS in humans. Monkeys and humans have similar physiology, drug
metabolism, placentation and fetal development.
The Infectious Disease Unit (IDU) encompasses
researchers from a variety of disciplines to better understand human diseases
and treatment, including studies in the following areas:
Developing the SIV/rhesus macaque pediatric model of disease, to
better understand the pathogenesis of SIV/HIV in neonates and test strategies
for immunoprophylaxis and antiviral therapy to prevent infection or slow
disease progression. Drug therapies used to prevent the transmission of HIV
from mother to infant were developed in nonhuman primate models, and are now
being successfully used in many human populations to protect millions of
infants from contracting HIV.
Using the nonhuman primate model of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) to
develop novel strategies to prevent HCMV in susceptible individuals, such as
AIDS patients, transplant recipients, and some fetuses and newborns.
Defining our understanding of which viral genes are critical for the
pathogenesis of AIDS
- Ongoing studies to further our understanding of the epidemiology and
zoonotic potential of nonhuman primate infectious diseases, including developing
better diagnostic tools for these studies.
Investigating the mechanisms of SIV/SHIV mucosal transmission, and
the biology of the immune system in the female genital tract, information
critical to develop effective HIV vaccines