IAVI REPORT – VOL. 17, NO. 4, 2013
Novelist Isaac Asimov famously observed that “the most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘that’s funny…’”
Our lead article bears this out, recounting how an unexpected result from a control experiment ordered up at the last minute led one researcher down a decade-long journey of discovery that adds a new wrinkle to our understanding of the immune system’s organization. Andreas von Bubnoff—who happens to have reported this entire issue—describes in his story a spate of surprising new findings about the natural killer (NK) cell and its apparently remarkable capabilities. Once believed to be a mere foot-soldier of the innate immune response, a lethal foe of diseased and distressed tissue, the NK cell seems to be just as likely an instrument of adaptive immunity, capable of targeting specific antigens and “remembering” what its targets look like. How that remembering occurs is, for now, anybody’s guess.
Our second major story covers the Keystone conference on Advancing Vaccines in the Genomics Era, which was held in Rio de Janeiro. The determination of the structure of a close mimic of the outer face of HIV’s envelope protein continued to make waves at this conference, but a lot of other worthy data was presented there as well—including new findings from systems vaccinology studies.
Next, to change the pace a bit, we’ve included in this issue an interesting Q&A with Edward Atwater, a former professor of medicine at the University of Rochester who collected HIV/AIDS posters from around the world for about a decade and a half until 2005. Be sure to click the links included in our online edition to check out some of the specimens. Finally, our Research Brief this time reports the development of a rapid and cheap new portable system for counting T cells, which could ease the management of HIV infection in developing countries, where HIV has hit hardest.
Finally, a personal note: this is the last issue of IAVI Report I’ll be editing, as I’m leaving IAVI. It has been both an education and a pleasure putting out this unique magazine, and I look forward to being a dedicated subscriber. I hope you enjoy this issue, and that you take a moment to visit our Facebook page and hit the “like” button. You can stay in touch with the field that way, or by visiting IAVIReport.org to read our blogs and web specials. I know I certainly will.
On behalf of the IAVI Report staff, I wish you a very happy and healthy 2014!