Nav: Home

Vaccine against RSV could be in sight, researchers say

October 09, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A vaccine for the common and sometimes deadly RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) has been elusive, but scientists say a new discovery puts them much closer to success.

A new study from The Ohio State University provides a potential blueprint for finding the immunological sweet spot - a vaccine weak enough that it doesn't make people sick but strong enough that it prompts an ample immune response, ensuring that the body will recognize RSV as an intruder in the future, and quickly mount a protective defense.

In a study published today (Oct. 9, 2019) in the journal Nature Communications, researchers report success in knocking out an epigenetic modification known as N6-methyladenosine in RSV RNA - a technique that proved to tamp down the virus and prompt a robust immune response in cotton rats.

"We now have a novel target to go after, and are working with industry toward a vaccine," said the study's senior author, Jianrong Li, an Ohio State professor of virology in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences.

Using a technique called reverse genetics, Ohio State researchers generated RSV that is defective in N6-methyladenosine methylation - one of the most common modifications that our cells make to RNA.

"What makes this especially exciting is that using this modified virus in a vaccine is likely to enhance a person's innate immune response, a challenge that has stood in the way of vaccine development in the past," said Miaoge Xue, the study's lead author and a graduate student in Li's laboratory.

"This approach may also work for similar viruses, such human metapneumovirus and human parainfluenza virus 3," said Xue, who recently presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Virology.

This discovery could also make vaccine production more economically feasible because it does not slow RSV growth in the lab - a critical step in vaccine production, said Li, who is also a member of Ohio State's Infectious Disease Institute.

RSV is common, easily spread and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. But in severe cases - particularly in babies younger than a year and the elderly - it can be life-threatening. RSV kills about 14,000 older Americans every year, and it's the top reason for pediatric hospitalizations most years.

"Worldwide, more than 80,000 kids die from these infections each year," said study co-author Mark Peeples, a pediatrics professor at Ohio State and researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. "An effective and affordable vaccine could save tens of thousands of lives annually."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting work to develop a vaccine that could be given to pregnant mothers who, in turn, produce antibodies and pass them to their fetus before birth to prevent RSV in infancy. But by 6 months of age, that protection would fade, leaving the young child vulnerable again, Peeples said.

"A vaccine based on this new study would be given to a baby at around that time, to stimulate the baby's immune system so that the baby's body can produce its own antibodies and T cells the next winter so they won't get sick if they're infected with RSV," Peeples said.

"What Dr. Li's lab has found is that when they make this modification in the genome of the virus, the cells that the virus infects produce a strong and early immune response. In particular, they produce more interferon, an early emergency signal that is your first line of defense."

Li said his technique also leaves the virus genetically stable, meaning that a live, attenuated (weakened) RSV with these mutations could not revert back to a stronger virus and wreak havoc in the human body.

It's an important concern, considering the long and rocky quest for an RSV vaccine. In the 1960s, an experimental "killed virus" vaccine was tested in children and unexpectedly increased the chances of hospitalization when they were later infected with RSV. Since then, research has focused on a live, attenuated vaccine. But creating a vaccine that is genetically stable and has the right balance of safety and protection has been challenging.

"RSV was isolated within a year of when measles virus was isolated, back in the 1950s. Within nine years, we had a vaccine for measles and 60 years later, we still don't have one for RSV, but this study puts us closer," Peeples said.
-end-
Other Ohio State researchers who worked on the study include Mijia Lu, Olivia Harder, Anzhong Li, Yuanmei Ma, Xueya Liang and Stefan Niewiesk.

The National Institutes of Health supported the study.

CONTACT: Jianrong Li, 614-688-2064; Li.926@osu.edu

Written by Misti Crane, 614-292-5220; Crane.11@osu.edu

Ohio State University

Related Vaccine Articles:

Successful MERS vaccine in mice may hold promise for COVID-19 vaccine
In a new study, published April 7 in mBio, researchers from the University of Iowa and the University of Georgia demonstrate that a new vaccine fully protects mice against a lethal dose of MERS, a close cousin of COVID-19.
Coronavirus Vaccine: Where are we and what's next? (video)
You might have heard that COVID-19 vaccine trials are underway in Seattle.
Why isn't there a vaccine for staph?
A study from Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Exposing vaccine hesitant to real-life pain of diseases makes them more pro-vaccine
New research from Brigham Young University professors finds there is a better way to help increase support for vaccinations: Expose people to the pain and suffering caused by vaccine-preventable diseases instead of trying to combat people with vaccine facts.
Lifetime flu vaccine?
Another year, another flu vaccine because so far scientists haven't managed to make a vaccine that protects against all strains of flu.
On the horizon: An acne vaccine
A new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reports important steps that have been taken towards the development of an acne vaccine.
Study examines first birth cohort to receive HPV vaccine: The vaccine works
Girls in the first birth cohort to be offered and receive the HPV vaccine showed a lower degree of dysplasia which may eventually lead to cervical cancer than a birth cohort from 1983.
False beliefs about MMR vaccine found to influence acceptance of Zika vaccine
People's willingness to use a Zika vaccine, once it's available, will be influenced by how they weigh the risks associated with the disease and the vaccine, but also by their misconceptions about other vaccines.
Would you pay for an Ebola vaccine? Most say yes.
George Mason University researchers conducted a study during the height of the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic and found that a majority of participants (59.7 percent) would pay at least $1 for a vaccine.
How well will the flu vaccine work this winter?
Scientists from UTMB and Biomed Protection predicted which H3N2 variants would become 'vaccine resistant', and this prediction has been confirmed during the 2017 Australian flu season.
More Vaccine News and Vaccine Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.