Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have patented a strategy for developing a human vaccine to prevent against Human Cytomegalovirus (hCMV) infection and disease.
CMV, a type of herpes virus, is the leading viral cause of birth defects and a serious problem in patients with compromised immune systems. The bodys natural immunity doesnt protect against infection by the virus, estimated to be present in 50 to 75 percent of all adults.
Until now, scientists havent been able to develop a vaccine to protect against CMV, said Deborah H. Spector, Ph.D., UCSD Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and faculty member of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Using a two-pronged approach, we successfully created and tested a vaccine in a mouse model with CMV that shows enormous promise for re-directing the bodys immune system, enabling it to fight the virus, she added.
The mouse vaccine generates an immune response that protects against both infection and development of disease when the virus is present by completely disarming the viruss ability to replicate and establish a persistent infection. The work is currently online in advance of publication in the July issue of Journal of Virology.
Our approach generates an immune response that is different from the normal response to the virus, and we hope to have found an Achilles heel in the defences that the virus uses to evade the immune system, said Spector.
The virus has evolved to persist in the host by evading the immune responses either by hiding or by misdirecting the hosts immune responses. We found a way to teach the host immune system to not be tricked by the virus, Spector added.
She added that the next step is to apply this strategy to create a vaccine for use in humans.
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