New vaccine developed to treat norovirus

Scientists at Ohio State University have tested an experimental vaccine against the human norovirus, which is the cause of around 90 percent of highly contagious non-bacterial illnesses, demonstrating that the vaccine generates a strong immune response in mice.

The scientists used a novel viral vector-based method to grow and deliver the vaccine, which has also been effective in fighting hepatitis C and HIV infections, the High Plains Journal reports. The animals that received the vaccine received a robust white blood cell response, high levels of antibodies and an additional immune response in the gastrointestinal system.

"The mice in our study developed a much higher antibody response to our vaccine candidate than they did to a more traditional vaccine,” Jianrong Li, assistant professor of food science and technology at Ohio State and the senior author of the study, said, according to the High Plains Journal. “That's one of the keys, to have a sustained antibody response, so that when the disease comes along, you can neutralize the virus and protect yourself.”

The researchers said that these results support the use of viral vector-based techniques as a new and effective way to develop vaccines for human norovirus and other viruses that cannot be grown in cell cultures. In particular, a safe vaccine against norovirus might prevent millions of gastrointestinal illnesses every year in the United States.

Using the vesicular stomatitis virus, also known as VSV, to create a recombinant virus for a norovirus vaccine led to close to 25 times higher levels of antibodies induced when compared to traditionally prepared vaccine candidates.

"This might be the most important advantage of the VSV-based norovirus vaccine candidate - it prepares a high concentration of norovirus-specific antibodies that can assist with virus detection, disease diagnosis and therapy," Li said, according to the High Plains Journal.