FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2018

New vaccine strategy has potential to prevent birth defects

A City of Hope study indicates a new vaccine strategy can potentially prevent a viral infection that causes permanent disabilities in 5,000 babies born each year.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus often contracted through contact with saliva or urine from children, most commonly at preschools. If a pregnant woman transmits the virus to her fetus, it can result in hearing loss, seizures or developmental disabilities in the infant. A new vaccine that works against the virus is a top priority of the Institute of Medicine.
The City of Hope study was published Thursday in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
“The vector system we studied is often already used in human patients for a variety of conditions and our findings indicate that it induces unbelievably potent antibodies that could neutralize CMV infection” Don J. Diamond, Ph.D, associate chair of the Department of Virology and director of Translational Vaccine Research at City of Hope who was the senior author of the study, said. “With this new data, we’re at the point where we feel very confident this vaccine is ready for clinical evaluation.”
The vaccine delivery method is currently being used in 150 active clinical trials for a variety of conditions.
“It’s very promising that a vaccine we already know to be used in human patients at the City of Hope and across the world could have this new application” Diamond said. “A vaccine capable of protecting against CMV – the leading viral cause of developmental disabilities – could also prove valuable to immune-compromised patients such as our hematologic malignancy transplant recipients who are also vulnerable to this particular virus.”
Lead authors of the study were Felix Wussow, Ph.D., and Flavia Chiuppesi, Ph.D., of the City of Hope's Division of Translational Vaccine Research. City of Hope is a research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.
Other researchers involved in the study include Peter A. Barry, Ph.D., vice chair of research at the University of California at Davis; and Rana Chakraborty, M.D., Ph.D. and director of the Ponce Family and Youth Clinic at Emory University Medical Center.

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