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Field Researcher Talks About Getting Closer to an HIV Vaccine

On Wednesday, Oct. 2 students gathered in the Library Lecture Hall for the year’s first lecture of the Science Seminar Series, featuring Isaac Krauss and his research surrounding HIV.

Before understanding the details of the research, it’s important to know the disease that Krauss is working towards providing a vaccination for. HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus which attacks the immune system. Because of its strength and its ability to mutate, the human immune system is unable to rid itself of the virus. At later stages of the virus, HIV infection can lead to AIDS. Often, people associate the word “HIV” with other developing countries time-zones away. While 97% of the people living with HIV do live in lower income and middle income countries, there are still more than one million people in America living with HIV.

Statistics show that one in five of the million affected with HIV are unaware that they even have the infection. This alarming fact strengthens the idea that there’s an urgent need for a means of stopping this deadly monster of a virus.

Krauss’s lab uses an evolution-based approach to synthesize carbohydrates that mimic the binding surfaces of the HIV protein gp120. He attaches sugars to a DNA library with an interesting technique called click chemistry. The ultimate goal of his research is to create a glycocluster that could potentially serve as an HIV vaccine.

So what does Isaac Krauss’ research mean ? How is it relevant to the global quest to beat the virus, and how is it relevant to life at Emmanuel? Quite simply, if you can prevent a person from ever having stage 1 of HIV, you can then prevent that person from reaching Stage 3 of the virus, which is AIDS. The domino effect continues on. If there are less people possessing the infection, there are less people spreading the virus. There will be less people in this world with AIDS if we can successfully create a vaccination.

Krauss said that his research was in its first stage. He also said that there would not be any sort of quick fix or simple solution. His work, however, does seem to be promising.

Krauss’ research is quite relevant to science majors because it provides a means of seeing the facts we read about in textbooks, in action and in physical form. Through Isaac Krauss’ work, students can apply what they learn in class and can continue to strive to improve the quality of life for the world as a whole.

The visiting research scientists from the Merck Laboratory are part of Emmanuel’s partnership with Merck. Emmanuel is the only college in the country with a private pharmaceutical research facility on campus.

Posted by on October 8, 2013. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.