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Discovery Could Pave The Way For More Effective Vaccines

Aired 10/10/11 on KPBS News.

Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology say they've discovered how the body generates immune cells at ports of entry like the mouth. The finding could help scientists design better vaccines.

— Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology have made a discovery they hope could someday make vaccines more effective.

Researchers have identified a previously unknown mechanism that allows the body to fight infections.

For vaccines to be effective, they have to cause immune memory cells to stay at the body's mucosal borders, like the mouth and nose. That way, the body can rapidly react to fight off infection.

Dr. Hilde Cheroutre, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute, said she's discovered the mechanism the body uses to establish those crucial cells.

"And you really need preexisting immune protection at those mucosal linings," Cheroutre said. "Because that defense mechanism will prevent the initial entry of the pathogen."

Cheroutre's research was done on mice models. She said the next step is to prove the mechanism is the same in humans.

Her findings are published in the online edition of the journal Nature Immunology.

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