Xiaoning Xu: Correlates of protection, the China Connection
Professor Xiao-Ning Xu talks about his research on emerging infectious diseases in China, from the SARS outbreak in 2003/4 to flu pandemic and HIV infection.
Quick steps were taken within 3 months of the SARS outbreak, and T cell immune responses were studied in the SARS cohort. Unresolved questions however remain, such as the reservoir of this virus, whether the T cell response provides any protective immunity, and if we can produce a vaccine.
Given the threat of a new influenza virus pandemic, T cell and antibody responses are measured before and after the flu season. Whereas protective immunity is mediated by neutralizing antibodies, T cells may limit the severity of influenza infection by new strains in the absence of specific antibody responses.
Professor Xu also follows a HIV cohort in Beijing, and studies their T cell responses to the HIV conserved region. The stimulation of HIV-specific cytolytic T lymphocytes offers a new strategy for vaccine development.