HIV STUDIES: Rockefeller's Melissa Pope is investigating dendritic cell-T cell fusions with an eye toward potential strategies for interrupting HIV replication.
Dendritic cells-highly specialized immune-system cells that can trigger T cells to fight infections-are being intensively studied as potential cancer vaccines. Researchers also are investigating these cells to understand their role in initiating HIV infection and for possible use in a vaccine for HIV.

Dendritic cells are found in almost every type of tissue, including lymphatic, blood, and skin, albeit in small numbers in each type. They make up between 0.5 percent and 4 percent of the cells at various sites. A category of antigen-presenting cells (APCs), dendritic cells display antigens; when T cells recognize these antigens, an immune response is set into motion.

"What dendritic cells do is pick up bacteria, whole proteins, and viruses; engulf them; chop [them] up into peptides; and present the peptides to T cells...

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