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New vaccine technology protects mice from hepatitis C virus
Date:2/23/2011

postdoc with the Experimental Virology group, which also includes Professor Allan Randrup Thomsen and Associate Professor Jan Pravsgaard Christensen.

The technology works by stimulating and accelerating the immune system, and showing the body's defence mechanisms of the parts of the virus that are more conserved and do not mutate as fast and as often, such as the molecules on the surface of the HCV.

Basically, traditional vaccines work by showing the immune defences an identikit image of the virus for which protection is desired. Antibodies then patrol all entrances with a copy of this image and are able to respond rapidly if the virus attempts to penetrate. But the influenza virus mutates its surface molecules and in the course of a single season it takes on a new guise so that it no longer resembles the original identikit image and the vaccine loses its efficacy.

Professor Randrup explains, "Mutations of the surface are Darwin at work, so to speak. The virus tries to outwit the immune defences and if it succeeds we get ill, and our response is new vaccines."

Associate Professor Pravsgaard Christensen says, "Viruses like HCV mutate so rapidly that classical vaccine technology hasn't a chance of keeping up. But the molecules inside the virus do not mutate that rapidly, because the survival of the virus does not depend on it."

New vaccine technology gives immune system information about virus' stable parts

According to Professor Randrup, the body's natural defences usually don't see these internal virus molecules until the virus has taken residence in the body.

"Our cells constantly show random samples of their contents to the immune defence patrols, and if there are enough foreign bodies among them, the alarm is triggered," says Professor Randrup.

The cells display fragments of the surface molecules and internal genes from the virus, and if you show the immune defences a kind of X-ray of
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Contact: Associate Professor Jan Pravsgaard Christensen
jpc@sund.ku.dk
453-058-9945
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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