Scientists develop vaccine against Epstein-Barr

he Epstein-Barr virus -EBV- is one of the most common viruses in humans, also known asHuman Herpes Virus 4. In fact, scientists point out that Epstein-Barr virus is found throughout the world, and it is estimated that the vast majority of people, approximately 95% of the world’s population, are infected with Epstein-Barr virus at some point in their lives.

Did you know that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common cause of infectious mononucleosis? It is usually spread among teenagers and young adults because it is spread through body fluids, especially saliva.

People who contract the virus as teenagers may develop infectious mononucleosis or glandular fever, which are major risk factors for many diseases and cancers.

Given its ease of dissemination, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute developed a new experimental vaccine that achieved strong and long-lasting immune protection in mice.

Dosing targets lymph nodes, which are key players in the body’s immune system function. According to its authors, the vaccine not only produced powerful antibodies and T cells to fight EBV, but was also shown to induce a specific type of immunity that prevents the growth of tumors associated with the virus.

A landmark study published last year suggested that Epstein-Barr virus may be responsible for multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable neurological disorder in which the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering around nerves, causing debilitating symptoms.

Prevention of mononucleosis

Preventing Epstein-Barr virus-related infectious mononucleosis may prevent multiple sclerosis in the future, but despite worldwide research efforts, no vaccine is currently available.

The new QIMR Berghofer vaccine candidate may offer an innovative way to combine two of the immune system’s powerful weapons to attack viruses in both acute and latent infections.

Although more work is needed, the vaccine may complement ATA188, a cell-based therapy that targets the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis and is currently in advanced Phase 2 clinical development at Atara Biotherapeutics.

Professor Rajiv Khanna AO from QIMR Berghofer, who led the development of the vaccine and collaborated with Atara on ATA188, said the study showed the vaccine could provide effective long-term protection against EBV.

“Other vaccine efforts have focused on inducing neutralizing antibodies against the virus that block infection by immune B cells during primary acute infection.

The QIMR Berghofer Tumor Immunology Group, led by Professor Khanna, is making significant progress in vaccine design technology that can generate T-cell immunity against disease-causing viruses. The platform is used to develop new EBV vaccine candidates and has previously been developed as a potential preventive vaccine against human cytomegalovirus (CMV). The team is also working on a therapeutic vaccine for patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers.



fountain: Nature Communications, Queensland Institute for Medical Research QIMR Berghofer

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