Posted: Sun May 10, 2009 11:21 am Post subject: Virologists Developing More Potent Vaccine Technology That C
ScienceDaily (May 10, 2009) — Virginia Tech virologist Chris Roberts' goal is to develop a platform for a flu vaccine that allows rapid modifications to meet new strains of flu.
Roberts' approach, to have the virus clothed in its own vaccine, capitalizes on the use of cell culture based systems for vaccine production. Roberts' group uses molecular biology techniques to fuse specific cytokines to components of the viral glycoproteins that facilitate their recognition by the virus assembly machinery. The resulting cytokine fusion proteins are then expressed in a virus permissive cell line and are actively incorporated into newly formed virus particles once those cells are infected with the virus. Now, when the virus leaves its host cell, it has cytokines bound to its outer surface and these particles are harvested, purified, and then chemically inactivated to create the vaccine. Importantly, these "killed vaccines," which Roberts' has dubbed FLU CYT-IVACs (for FLU CYTokine bearing Inactivated VACcine), still retain the bioactivity of cytokines.
The research has been tested in young adult mice and several CYT-IVAC formulations have shown promise in providing enhanced protection against viral pneumonia. Roberts noted, "Preliminary testing has also revealed that some of these FLU CYT-IVACs are better at protecting aged or old mice against viral pneumonia than non-modified vaccine."
He is already expanding this research to include the use of human specific cytokines in the FLU CYT-IVAC formulations. "Prior to being used as a human vaccine, these humanized FLU CYT-IVACs will have to undergo rigorous testing to ensure vaccine safety and this will require additional funding, which we are actively pursuing," Roberts said.
"The significance lies in the versatility of the cell culture-based vaccine platform; you can custom make a vaccine to tailor to the present need – such as swine flu," Roberts said. "And you can produce an immune-boosting response in populations with lower immunity."
This work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases.
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