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S.D. Scientists Discover the Gene Trigger for Antibodies

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Aired 7/17/09

San Diego scientists have identified the gene that leads to the creation of antibodies. They say that will make it easier to create effective vaccines.

— San Diego scientists have identified the gene that leads to the creation of antibodies. They say that will make it easier to create effective vaccines.

Antibodies are like guided missiles that locate and destroy deadly viruses inside you. And good vaccines get those missiles aimed and ready to fire. But scientist Shane Crotty, of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, says creating vaccines has involved lots of trial and error. And his research team has found something that will make vaccines easier to engineer. They've identified the gene that triggers the immune system chain reaction that creates antibodies. Crotty says understanding this gene's vital role will make it easier to improve existing vaccines and create new ones.

"I really think it's a key piece of the puzzle as we try to learn about basically how to manipulate the immune system to our advantage," he says.

Crotty worked with Yale University researchers to discover what they call the BCL6 gene. His research is published in the journal "Science."

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