heEpstein-Barr virus – EBV – is one of the most common viruses in humans, also known as Human Herpesvirus 4. In fact, scientists point out that Epstein-Barr virus is found all over the world, and it is estimated that the vast majority of people (approximately 95% of the world’s population) have been 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 usually spreads among teens and young adults because it spreads through bodily fluids, especially saliva.
People who contract the virus as teenagers may develop infectious mononucleosis, or glandular fever, a major risk factor for many diseases and cancer.
Given its ease of dissemination, the QIMR Berghofer Institute for Medical Research has developed a new experimental vaccine that has achieved effective and long-lasting immune protection in mice.
The dose targets the lymph nodes, which are a critical part of the body’s immune system function. According to its authors, the vaccine not only generated powerful antibodies and T cells against EBV, but it was also shown to induce a specific type of immunity to prevent the growth of tumors associated with the virus.
A landmark study published last year suggested that Epstein-Barr virus may be the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable neurological disease in which the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering around nerves, causing debilitating symptoms.
Preventing Epstein-Barr virus-associated infectious mononucleosis may prevent multiple sclerosis in the future, but despite research efforts worldwide, there is currently no vaccine available.
The new QIMR Berghofer vaccine candidate may offer an innovative approach that combines two powerful weapons of the immune system to attack viruses of acute and latent infection.
Although more work is needed, the vaccine could complement ATA188, a cell-based therapy targeting the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis, currently in advanced phase 2 clinical development at Atara Biotherapeutics.
Professor Rajiv Khanna AO of QIMR Berghofer, who led the vaccine’s development and worked 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, preventing infection of immune B cells during primary acute infection.
The QIMR Berghofer Tumor Immunology Group, led by Prof. Khanna, is making major advances in vaccine design techniques that generate T-cell immunity against disease-causing viruses. The platform is being used to develop new EBV vaccine candidates following the development of a potential preventive vaccine against human cytomegalovirus (CMV). The team is also working on a therapeutic vaccine to treat patients with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers.
fountain: Nature Communications, QIMR Berghofer, Queensland Institute of Medical Research