“Children in day care settings, for example, or adults who are sexually active, can pass along the virus,” explained Spector. “It becomes a serious problem in developing infants during the pregnancy or in those whose immune system is compromised, such as AIDS or transplant patients.”
When a persistent virus such as CMV infects an individual, it disarms the host immune system in two ways – by hiding or masking the proteins that would normally provoke an immune response, or by fooling the immune system into mounting a response that doesn’t work to eradicate the virus.
“We needed a way to make the host defense system sit up and take notice,” said Christopher S. Morello, Ph.D., first author of the study.
To do this, the researchers devised a vaccine with a one-two punch that combines a DNA immunization that targets T-cells to essential genes required for CMV replication, with a killed virus that prompts the body’s B-cells to generate an antibody response.
The vaccine contains the DNA of two essential genes that are essential for replication of the virus. These genes – which are also found in other herpes viruses such as chicken pox or herpes simplex – have the same or very similar sequence, structure and function whether in human or mouse viruses, and present a novel target for the host’s T-cells to muster forces and attack the virus. Secondly, the vaccine also contains a “boost” from an inactivated virus, which generates an antibody response.
Source:University of California - San Diego