David BALTIMORE, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
"AIDS will not be conquered until we find a way to stop the transmission of HIV. Many are working on vaccines to that end, but the pathway to success remains clouded. We have developed a mode of protection involving use of a viral vector to program muscle cells to make large amounts of monoclonal anti-HIV antibodies and we have found that they efficiently protect mice (altered to contain human immune cells) against infection by HIV. We are translating these laboratory findings to clinical evaluation."
David Baltimore is President Emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech in Pasadena, California. He received his B.A. in Chemistry from Swarthmore College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in 1964 from Rockefeller University. Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1975 in Physiology or Medicine for his research into viral replication that provided the key to understanding the life cycle of retroviruses, Baltimore has profoundly influenced national science policy on such issues as recombinant DNA research and the AIDS epidemic. He is an accomplished researcher, educator, administrator and public advocate for science and engineering and is considered one of the world’s most influential biologists.
Baltimore’s laboratory combines two different areas of work: basic studies in immunology and translational studies that draw on immunology. The basic science revolves around various aspects of control of immune function. Over 25 years ago he discovered the inducible transcription factor NF-kB, later shown to be a master regulator of inflammatory and immune processes, and he continues to examine its properties today. The translational studies derive from the development of viral vectors that can mediate changes in immune function, a program coined Engineering Immunity. In one aspect, his laboratory is focusing on lentiviral vectors that encode T cell receptor genes able to program patient T cells to react with and destroy melanoma cells. In a second program, Vectored ImmunoProphylaxis or VIP, Adeno Associated Virus-derived vectors are used to program muscle cells to make broadly reactive and potent antibodies against HIV and other pathogens. This program, presently carried out in mice that harbor a human immune system, is in transition to clinical evaluation in humans.
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