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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to lead international team to accelerate investigation of immune-related genes

" can come under attack from the immune system. This includes foreign matter such as viruses and bacteria as well as cancerous cells and transplanted tissue. Even organs from a close blood relative can display very different HLA markers due to the underlying distinctions within each individual's HLA gene complex; a perfect HLA-type match exists only among identical twins.

The effectiveness of a person's immune defenses for detecting and destroying trespasser antigens depends largely on his or her HLA gene complex. Similarly, these genes are suspected of playing a role when the immune system mistakenly targets the body's own cells as foreign, which is the case with autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. The IHWG will accelerate investigations seeking to discover the fundamental mechanics of how HLA genes direct beneficial and harmful immune responses.

"The IHWG represents more than 30 years of collaborative research among the world's leading scientists in population-based genetics," says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation. "Its extensive international network of laboratories will contribute importantly to NIAID's efforts to address the global health problems caused by infectious and immune-mediated diseases."

A primary goal for the IHWG is to create a searchable HLA database linking multiple interacting genes with function, ethnicity and disease. A more centralized database will make it easier for scientists to find and contribute new data. It also will help clinical investigators use the information as a platform for future research on immune-mediated diseases.

Other IHWG objectives include the following:

  • find more accurate DNA-based techniques to replace current methods for identifying organ donor matches for transplantation;
  • stimulate vaccine development by defining candidate vaccine targets in diverse populations;

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Contact: Susan Edmonds
sedmonds@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
5-Sep-2000


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