New vaccine strategies could safely control Rift Valley Fever

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research have announced two new approaches that could possibly lead to the first vaccine for Rift Valley Fever.

Rift Valley Fever primarily affects farm animals, but it has spread to humans, causing illness and death in Africa and the Middle East, according to a cisionwire.comn news report. The U.S. government has classified the disease as a select agent because of the possibility for it to be used in biological warfare.

The researchers reported in the recent edition of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases that they developed two experimental vaccines using two approaches - one based on DNA and the other alphavirus replicon-based, according to the report.

Ted M. Ross, the lead author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research, told cisionwire.com that mice immunized with either strategy were protected when directly exposed to the pathogenic virus.

He also noted that when the strategies were combined, increased concentrations of antibodies that neutralize infectious agents and increase cell-based immune responses were observed.

"These vaccine strategies may be advantageous to controlling RVF because they provide a safer alternative and appear to work as well as live virus vaccines," Ross told cisionwire.com.