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Respiratory virus vaccine candidate

May. 27, 2014, 8:00 AM

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No licensed vaccines exist to protect against human metapneumovirus (HMPV), a leading cause of acute respiratory infection in infants, children and the elderly. Virus-like particles (VLPs) – formed by self-assembly of viral proteins – are attractive vaccine candidates because they are non-infectious, but the particles mimic virus structure and can produce both humoral (antibody) and cellular (T cell) immune responses.

Reagan Cox, John Williams, M.D., and colleagues previously generated HMPV VLPs by expressing the matrix (M) and fusion (F) proteins in mammalian cells. In the June issue of the Journal of Virology, they report that HMPV VLPs produce humoral and cellular immune responses in a mouse model of HMPV infection. The VLPs induced F-protein specific antibodies and cytotoxic T cells. Immunization with two doses of VLPs restricted HMPV replication in the upper respiratory tract and completely protected mice from HMPV replication in the lungs.

The findings suggest that VLPs containing the HMPV F protein are a promising vaccine candidate for the prevention of HMPV infection.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AI085062, AI007611, HL069765, GM007347).

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