Rewarding research

Two recent accomplishments exemplify the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology’s range of research and the possible application of its findings.

Matthais von Herrath, M.D. was awarded the American Diabetes Association’s Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award for his work in the field of diabetes.

A professor of immunology at LIAI and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at UCSD, von Herrath has developed a combination therapy that is showing promise at halting type 1 diabetes when caught in the early stages.

“I went into type 1 diabetes because I felt it was one of the areas that needed a lot of attention,” von Herrath said. “It’s a severe disease increasing nationwide for reasons that we don’t understand.”

LIAI researchers Shane Crotty, Ph.D. and Allessandro Sette, Ph.D. made a recent discovery about how vaccinations work that counters current thought on how the body responds to viruses. The finding, which revealed a previously unknown mechanism in how the body fights viruses, offers the potential for scientists to develop more effective vaccines.

“Ten years ago I worked on the AIDS vaccine,” Crotty said. “It was very clear we didn’t know what we were doing.”

Crotty’s recent findings identified response mechanisms that will be helpful to scientists developing vaccines, especially for complex diseases.

These findings demonstrate the Institute’s commitment to understanding how to both prevent and intercept deviations in the immune system.