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Trudeau research may lead to new vaccines

December 15, 2011
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - New research from the laboratory of Elizabeth Leadbetter at Trudeau Institute may lead to a new class of vaccines.

Leadbetter's lab has discovered new properties of a potential vaccine adjuvant - a substance added to a vaccine to improve immune response to ailments - that suggest it could be useful for enhancing protection against a number of different infections. This new data will be published in the January 2012 issue of the journal Nature Immunology. The paper is now available through Advance Online Publication on Nature Immunology's website at

"These cells are really fascinating because they have both innate and adaptive immune cell properties," Leadbetter said in a prepared statement. "In other words, they act rapidly, but also specifically. NKT cell activation by certain lipids enhances the activation of other immune cells, thus acting as the body's natural adjuvant."

Leadbetter earned a Bachelor of Science degree with highest honors from Bates College in 1993 and worked for ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corporation in Waltham, Mass., before receiving her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Boston University School of Medicine in 2002. She was a post-doctoral fellow and then an instructor in the Division of Rheumatology with Dr. Michael B. Brenner at Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, until 2009, when she joined the Trudeau Institute as an assistant member of the faculty.

Leadbetter's research, which is funded by the Trudeau Institute, was performed with current and former Trudeau faculty members including Irah King, Michael Tighe, John Dibble, Anne Fortier and Markus Mohrs. Michael Brenner of Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Gurdyal S. Besra and Natacha Verapeen from University of Birmingham were also important contributors to these studies.

Research at Trudeau Institute is supported by government grants and philanthropic contributions.

The Institute's roots date back to the late 1800s in Saranac Lake, when Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau established a laboratory and sanitarium here for the study and treatment of tuberculosis.



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