The main intent of the UCLA CFAR Mucosal Immunology Core Laboratory (MICL) is to serve as an accessible and readily available resource for investigators seeking access to clinically-relevant human samples. The MICL offers a stream-lined process to foster multi-disciplinary interactions for further advances in HIV/AIDS, bridging basic, translational and clinical investigators in the area of HIV-related pathogenesis, treatment strategies and vaccine development. Especially for investigators without direct access to their own patient populations, the MICL provides Users with a coordinated, time-efficient and quality-enforced approach to acquire well-characterized human gastrointestinal (and other) mucosal tissue using our Core/MICL-specific. IRB-approved consent form to acquire samples, a unique MICL-based IRB-approved clinical trial registry for subject recruitment and an IRB-approved tissue bank for pilot studies starting with archived samples. To date, these projects have included acquiring human tissue/fluid/blood samples in pilot (and fully funded) studies of gene/stem cell therapy, nano-medicine approaches, mucosal immunization/tolerance, assessments of increased senescence in HIV-infected, impact of drugs of abuse, viral resistance and body compartmentalization as relates to virus, cells and target drugs. The MICL offers access to (i) a smoothly functioning small clinical trials unit with proven expertise in clinical management, subject recruitment and endoscopic procedures, (ii) a laboratory with a reputation of developing/optimizing novel mucosal assays and (iii) the ability to gain consultative input for protocols/grant applications so they are more firmly grounded in mucosal assessments and feasible, testable endpoints for pilot studies. The MICL assists Users with patient selection, tissue procurement, sample processing, and assistance in institutional review board submissions, refinements in hypothesis testing, detecting changes in the local versus systemic immune response and evaluating treatment responses at the tissue level.
The MICL offers a critical, centralized, cost-effective and efficient resource for investigators seeking tissue/fluids from sexually-exposed mucosae for novel research efforts. These efforts are essential in better understanding HIV mucosal immunopathogenesis (prevention, therapeutics, eradication). With the recent paradigm shift with focus on tissue-impact of HIV, integrated efforts between bedside and bench can complement each other in far more constructive and interactive ways than has been evidenced in the past.
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