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
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
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