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Study first to show that RNA interference can facilitate vaccine development
Date:12/10/2008

revented detectable disease in the mice.

Tripp pointed out that RSV replication was reduced in a dose-dependent manner, meaning that the viral load decreased in proportion to the amount of drug administered. He said it's possible to halt viral replication entirely with higher doses of the drug, but that his goal was to expose the immune system to enough of the virus so that it could mount a strong response upon future exposure.

In the next phase of the study, the researchers took mice that three weeks earlier were exposed to RSV after being prophylactically treated with either the drug or the controls and challenged them with the virus for a second time. The researchers found that levels of specific cells associated with the memory immune response were substantially increased in the experimental group versus the control groups, while the mice treated with the siRNA drug had virus concentrations that were more than 80 percent less than the control groups and recovered an average of two days faster.

"This is the first study of its kind to show the utility of using any siRNA to improve the immune system's memory response to an infectious agent," Tripp said. "We were able to reduce virus replication enough to prevent the development of disease but still induce immunity later on."

Between 75,000 to 125,000 children under age one are hospitalized with complications of RSV annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tripp notes that there is currently no effective vaccine for the virus. Unlike most viruses, the exact same strain of RSV can infect the same person repeatedly. Scientists are just now beginning to understand the many ways in which RSV evades the memory immune response, but Tripp's finding reveals that keeping RSV replication and protein expression at a low level prevents the virus from eluding the immune system.

Tripp said preliminary data also suggest siRNA drugs are likely to behave as e
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Contact: Sam Fahmy
sfahmy@uga.edu
706-542-5361
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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