Canine virus could be used to develop vaccines for humans

Researchers from the University of Georgia recently published a study about the use of a common dog virus for the development of novel vaccines to treat human disease.

Parainfluenza virus 5, a virus that causes kennel cough and respiratory infections in dogs, could serve as a foundation to protect humans against diseases that were resistant to vaccines in the past, Red Orbit reports.

"We can use this virus as a vector for all kinds of pathogens that are difficult to vaccinate against," Biao He, the study's principal investigator, said, according to Red Orbit. "We have developed a very strong H5N1 flu vaccine with this technique, but we are also working on vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria."

Because PIV5 does not cause disease in humans, the research team was able to put antigens from other parasites or viruses inside PIV5. The canine virus then safely delivered the antibody-producing pathogens to defend the body against infections.

"Safety is always our number one concern," He said, according to Red Orbit. "PIV5 makes it much easier to vaccinate without having to use live pathogens."

In the study, the researchers found that the PIV5 vaccine was able to protect mice against seasonal influenza and H5N1 with a single dose.

"I believe we have the best H5N1 vaccine candidate in existence," He said, according to Red Orbit. "But we have also opened up a big field for a host of new vaccines."

The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.