Daniel Piper

Graduate Reasearch Assistant

Howdy folks; I have been asked to tell you a little bit about myself and the research I do in Dr. Kitto’s Lab.  I started graduate school in the fall of 1997, after completing my undergraduate degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  I joined Dr. Kitto’s lab in the spring of 1999 to continue work started by Jamie Caras on a novel HIV vaccine. 

Over the past few years it has become abundantly clear that for AIDS vaccines to be effective they must stimulate systemic and mucosal cellular immune responses in addition to an effective humoral response.  The vaccines we have developed will attempt to elicit a cellular response by exchanging the native peptide in the groove of the class I major histocompatibility complex with a viral epitope fused to b2-microglobulin (b2M)

To test the theory, both a peptide model and a DNA model have been constructed using a cytotoxic T-cell epitope from the Sendai virus nucleocapsid protein.  The Sendai virus causes a fatal pneumonia in rats and mice but is non-transmittable to humans.  This Sendai epitope was fused to b2M via a 10, a 15, or a 21 amino acid linker using extension PCR. Both versions are currently being tested in vitro to determine which construct is able to effectively stimulate T-cell hydrodoma’s specific for the epitope.  Afterward the vaccine will be test in vivo to determine the best route and dosage.  Finally vaccinated mice will be challenged with the virus to demonstrate the vaccines ability to provide protection against a live viral challenge.