Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine that reduces stillbirths of rodents born to mothers infected with cytomegalovirus// (CMV). This virus also causes mental retardation and hearing loss in newborn children infected in early fetal life. The National Institutes of Health funded this research.
Estimates place the number of U.S. children born with CMV each year at about 40,000, and there is no vaccine or treatment for pregnant women who have the infection. In a 2000 report, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences listed as a top priority the development of a vaccine to prevent cytomegalovirus during pregnancy.
"An effective CMV vaccine for women of childbearing age could greatly reduce the disability caused by the virus," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD, the NIH institute that funded the study. "A prototype vaccine is the first step in protecting newborns against the most common viral disease of newborns in the developed world."
Female guinea pigs given the CMV vaccine before becoming pregnant gave birth to fewer dead pups and were less likely to transmit the infection to their offspring than were female guinea pigs not receiving the vaccine.
The vaccinated group (10 litters) produced 28 live pups and 4 dead pups—a mortality rate of 13 percent. The control group (8 litters), which received a vaccine for the flu, produced 9 live pups and 12 dead pups—a mortality rate of 57 percent.
The surviving pups weighed more than the pups of mothers that had not received the CMV vaccination before becoming pregnant. The vaccine greatly reduced the total amount of virus found in the mothers’ blood. The vaccine in the study was developed in collaboration with researchers at AlphaVax, Inc.
CMV is a common viral infection related to the herpes virus and often causes few or no symptoms, according to the National Institute on Deafness and OtPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
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