Editor’s note: Although best known as a cancer research center, Fred Hutch also is a hub of HIV research. This is one of a series leading up to World AIDS Day on the breadth of our work, from investigating HIV at a molecular level to searching for a cure to running the world’s largest HIV vaccine clinical trials network. Learn more Dec. 1 when our scientists, led by President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland, gather with HIV advocates and members of the public at noon in Pelton Auditorium to talk about the role Fred Hutch plays in ending this pandemic.
More than three decades have passed since the discovery of the AIDS virus and the famously flawed prediction of an HIV vaccine within two years. Yet scientists have never stopped trying, and now they are enlisting a surprising new ally in their quest for an effective vaccine: the microbiome.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. James Kublin and his colleagues are in their second year of a five-year federal grant to study how the microbiome — the diverse community of bacteria and other microbes that inhabit our bodies, particularly our gut — alters the immune system’s response to vaccines.
Their study is already providing new insights into the complex interactions between gut bugs and the immune system, with implications that could lead to improved vaccines of all kinds.