FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Experimental CMV vaccine may be more effective than previous vaccines

An experimental vaccine against human cytomegalovirus infection was found to be safe and more effective than previous vaccines, according to a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California at Davis.

The researchers at UC Davis and the University of Alabama at Birmingham used an out-of-the-box approach in developing the vaccine. CMV is able to use interleukin-10, a regulator of the immune system, to manipulate the body's normal immune response to the virus. The researchers focused on neutralizing CMV's own IL-10 so the immune system was able to effectively respond to the presence of the virus.

"We found that the animals did not become infected because, as a result of the vaccine, their immune systems generated neutralizing antibodies that prevented CMV from entering and infecting connective tissue cells, epithelial cells and other major cell types that the virus targets," Peter Barry, the lead author of the study, said. "The vaccine also created 'immunological memory,' which enables the immune system to respond quickly and effectively whenever CMV re-infection occurs."

CMV is a type of herpes virus that spreads through close contact with urine, saliva or other bodily fluids. The virus typically causes few, if any, symptoms, but the virus can cause congenital defects in infants when passed on from a pregnant mother. The defects include developmental and cognitive disabilities. CMV is the most common viral cause of congenital defects in the U.S.

CMV can also cause complications in patients with HIV, organ transplant recipients and others with a weakened immune system.

The research team found the unique CMV approach induced broader immunological protection in an animal model than previous vaccines. The researchers will test the vaccine's effectiveness and safety in further animal studies before the potential consideration of human clinical studies.