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New vaccine candidate shows strong potential to prevent highly contagious norovirus
Date:3/15/2011

rized by diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain each year are caused by norovirus infection. Human norovirus is transmitted primarily through fecal-oral contact, either through contaminated food or water or direct person-to-person spread. This virus is famous for being so contagious that as few as 10 viral particles may be enough to cause symptoms. No vaccine or anti-viral drug is currently available for human norovirus.

That kind of pathogenic power makes the virus a high priority for vaccine developers, said Li, who also serves on Ohio State's environmental health sciences faculty. But the process is complicated by two primary problems: The virus cannot grow in cell cultures, and no small animal models exist to mimic the infection.

Without the ability to grow the norovirus in cell cultures, the researchers instead inserted a human norovirus capsid gene capsid refers to the virus's outer shell into a specific location on the genome of a different virus. This process creates what is known as a recombinant virus a new viral strain formed by recombining genetic material from other viruses.

The viral host for this vaccine candidate is called vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV, a bullet-shaped virus that has been an attractive vector for vaccine designers, Li said. The resulting recombinant viral vector functions as both the vehicle to deliver the vaccine as well as the agent that produces virus-like particles that mimic the human norovirus itself.

In this work, vaccination with the recombinant virus caused the norovirus capsid particles to grow continuously in animals, triggering a specific immune response. When the scientists tested these particles for their antigenic potential to look like foreign intruders in the body, the particles were neutralized by antibodies specifically designed to fight the human norovirus.

"So it looks like the virus and acts like the virus, but it's not, and that is how a vaccine designed with
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Contact: Jianrong Li
li.926@osu.edu
614-688-5728
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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