CAPRISA, HPP and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard recently hosted a Mucosal Immunology Workshop at Tala Game Reserve from 2-4 November 2011. The purpose of the meeting was to promote discussion between local and international clinicians, epidemiologists, and scientists to explore the role of mucosal immunity in the context of the global HIV epidemic and following the recent CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial.
Salim Abdool Karim began discussions at the two-day workshop by emphasizing the importance of research in mucosal immunology in understanding the outcomes of recent and current prevention strategies and to improve future strategies to prevent and control HIV infection. With the mucosalimmune system serving as the predominant site of both sexual transmission of HIV and viral replication,efforts to understand mucosal immune responses to the virus could shed light on ways to prevent HIV acquisition. Prominent leaders in the growing field of mucosal immunology, including Ashley Haase from University of Minnesota Medical School, Tom Hope from Northewestern University, Georgia Tomaras from Duke University Medical School, Dennis Burton from the Scripps Research Institute, Barbara Shacklett from the University of California, Dan Barouch from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Jason Brenchley from the National Institutes for Health, Marcus Altfeld, Todd Gierahn, Doug Kwon, and Darrell Irvine from the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Jo-Ann Passmore and Lindi Roberts from the University of Cape Town, and Thorsten Mempel from the Massachusetts General Hospital, presented their recent findings in studies of HIV infection at the female genital tract; mucosal antibody responses against HIV; alterations in the gastrointestinal immune environment on HIV infection; and immune activation, inflammation and immunomodulation at the mucosa, and new technologies for the study of HIV in mucosal tissues. The topics encouraged interactive debates and discussion among the attendees and prompted the formation of future collaborativeefforts to address the unanswered questions surrounding the definition of effective mucosal immune responses, how to elicit them,and novel ways to overcome traditional barriers to their detection in the mucosa. CAPRISA has established a Mucosal Immunology Laboratory at its headquarters in Durban with the specific purpose of perusing a basic science approach to improve the understanding of the immunological basis of the success of the topically applied 1% Tenofovir microbicide gel in preventing HIV infection in the CAPRISA 004 trial, and to inform on how better to improve efficacy of future prophylactic strategies to limit susceptibility to HIV infection.
- Lenine Liebenberg