The development of antiviral vaccines has been accelerated using monoclonal antibody and/or recombinant DNA techniques, the objective being to prevent grave viral infectious diseases, such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), and hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated liver diseases. Certain proportions of individuals in the human population do not have any appreciable immune response to foreign antigens, either in cases of natural exposure or a planned immunization. Here we report that in the nonresponders to HB vaccine, there is an HLA-linked immune suppression gene for hepatitis B surface antigen (Is-HBsAg) controlling the nonresponsiveness to HBsAg through HBsAg-specific suppressor T cells. The Is-HBsAg is in strong linkage disequilibrium with the HLA-Bw54-DR4-DRw53 haplotype.
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