M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmacology
NYU Langone Medical Center, Sackler
March 1, 2011
Computational Biology of Antigenic Variation
Antigenic variation is the process by which pathogens vary their surface to elude the human immune system. The term is most commonly used to describe the process by which pathogens elude human antibodies. Overcoming antigen variation with designed vaccines is a tremendous problem for scientists pursuing public health improvements. HIV and influenza present the most extreme forms of antigen variation known. There are over 60,000 different known circulating strains of HIV-1 and millions of strain combinations of the antigenically variant hemagglutinin and neuraminidase surface influenza antigens. Recent crystallography, immunology, virology and informatics results have put a critical mass of pieces in place to build a computationally integrated view of the antigenicity of these viruses that can profoundly inform vaccine design. A novel technique to perform this data integration will be discussed.