HeEpstein-Barr virus (EBV-) is one of the most common human viruses, also known as human herpesvirus 4. In fact, scientists note that EBV occurs worldwide and it is estimated that the vast majority of people, approximately 95% of the world’s population, have been infected with EBV at some point in their lives.
Did you know that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common cause of infectious mononucleosis? It is commonly spread among teenagers and young adults as it spreads through bodily fluids, especially saliva.
Those who contract the virus during adolescence or young age may develop infectious mononucleosis, or glandular fever, which is a major risk factor for a number of diseases and cancers.
Given its ease of transmission, the Berghofer Institute for Medical Research QIMR developed a new experimental vaccine that provided powerful and long-lasting immune protection in mice.
The dose is directed to the lymph nodes, key links in the functioning of the body’s immune system. According to its authors, the vaccine not only produced strong antibodies and T cells to fight EBV, but also induced a special type of immunity to protect against the growth of tumors associated with the virus.
A landmark study published last year found that EBV is likely the main cause multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable neurological disease in which the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the protective sheath around nerves, causing debilitating symptoms.
Prevention of mononucleosis
Prevention of EBV-related infectious mononucleosis has the potential to prevent multiple sclerosis in the future, but despite worldwide research, there is no vaccine yet.
The new QIMR vaccine candidate Berghofer potentially offers an innovative approach that combines two powerful branches of the immune system to attack the virus in both acute and latent infection.
While more work is needed, the vaccine potentially complements ATA188, a cell-based therapy that targets the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis and is currently in advanced Phase 2 clinical development at Atara Biotherapys.
Professor Rajiv Khanna AO of QIMR Berghofer, who led the development of the vaccine and is also collaborating with Atara on the development of ATA188, said the study shows the vaccine can provide effective long-term protection against EBV.
“Other vaccination efforts have focused on the induction of neutralizing antibodies against the virus, which block the infection of immune B cells during primary acute infection.
The QIMR Berghofer Tumor Immunology Group, led by Prof. Hanna, has made significant advances in technology to develop vaccines that can generate T-cell immunity against disease-causing viruses. This platform has been used to develop a new EBV vaccine candidate and has previously led to a potential prophylactic human cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine. The team is also working on a therapeutic vaccine to treat patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancer.
FOUNTAIN: Connecting with nature, Queensland Institute for Medical Research QIMR Berghofer