Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


USU Discovery Leads to Development of Vaccine to Help Prevent Deadly Virus

A scientific discovery made in the laboratory of Christopher C. Broder, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), has led to the development of a vaccine to aid in the prevention of the deadly Hendra virus. On Nov. 1, Pfizer Animal Health announced that the new vaccine, called Equivac® HeV, is now available for use in Australia.

Since its first appearance in 1994, the Hendra virus has killed more than 80 horses and four of the seven people infected to date. An equine vaccine is crucial to breaking the cycle of Hendra virus transmission from flying foxes to horses and then to people, as it helps to prevent the horse from both developing the disease and transmitting the virus to other horses and people. Experiments have shown that vaccinated horses survived infection by Hendra virus and have shown no evidence of virus, disease, replication or shedding of the virus, a critical finding to help prevent transmission.

The vaccine is derived from original work by Broder and Katharine Bossart, Ph.D., a USU alumna and assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine. Their work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

“The vaccine component is a soluble portion of a Hendra virus G glycoprotein, known as Hendra-sG,” said Broder. Bossart developed Hendra-sG while a graduate student in Broder’s laboratory at USU. “This glycoprotein is critical in mediating viral infection. If you block its function, you block virus infection. We have shown it to be highly effective in preventing Hendra virus and the related Nipah virus infection when it is used as a vaccine in animals. Vaccinated animals make antibodies to Hendra G, and these antibodies will subsequently prevent virus infection.”

To date, Hendra virus has been found only in Australia. The nation experienced an unprecedented number of 18 outbreaks across Queensland and New South Wales in 2011, during which 22 horses died or were euthanized. Authorities detected the first case of Hendra virus antibodies in a dog within a natural environment that same year. The virus has appeared seven times in 2012, causing equine deaths and serious cases of human exposure to infection. In July 2012, a woman with significant exposure risk was given an experimental human monoclonal antibody therapy on a compassionate use basis. Dimitar Dimitrov, Ph.D., of the NIH, working in collaboration with Broder, developed the antibody, known as m102.4.

The Hendra virus, and the similar Nipah virus, both members of the paramyxovirus family, are highly infectious agents that emerged from flying foxes in the 1990s to cause serious disease outbreaks in humans and livestock in Australia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Singapore. Recent Nipah outbreaks have resulted in acute respiratory distress syndrome and encephalitis, person-to-person transmission, and greater than 75 percent case fatality rates among humans. A collaborative group led by Broder published its groundbreaking Hendra and Nipah virus work in two articles in Science Translational Medicine, including the Aug. 2011 article that describes the Hendra-sG vaccine’s ability to completely protect nonhuman primates from Nipah virus infection, paving the way for a potential human-use vaccine, and the Oct. 2011 article that describes a breakthrough in the development of an effective therapy against both viruses now in development for use in humans.

Broder and Bossart collaborated with a team at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong, Australia, to advance the Hendra vaccine technology. The bio-security facility at AAHL is the only laboratory in the world where Hendra virus challenge testing of the vaccine in horses could have been accomplished -- work presently under the direction of Deborah Middleton, D.V.P. The technology used to develop the vaccine was licensed from The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF) by Pfizer Animal Health, who joined the collaborative effort two years ago, bringing its development and regulatory expertise to facilitate the unprecedented rapid development, approval and deployment of the breakthrough vaccine.

The recent work to develop and evaluate the Hendra vaccine was jointly funded by CSIRO; Pfizer Animal Health; the Australian government through its Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; and the Queensland government through its Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. NIAID provided funding to support production of the vaccine component in the U.S.

About USU
The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) is the nation’s federal health sciences university. USU students are primarily active duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who have received specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, preventive medicine, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, and acute trauma care. A large percentage of the university’s nearly 5,000 physician and 600 advanced practice nursing alumni are supporting operations around the world, offering their leadership and expertise. The University also has graduate programs in biomedical sciences and public health, most open to civilian and military applicants, and oral biology, committed to excellence in research which have awarded more than 400 doctoral and 900 masters degrees to date. For more information about USU and its programs, visit

Sharon Willis | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Sweetening neurotransmitter receptors and other neuronal proteins
28.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung

nachricht A new look at thyroid diseases
28.10.2016 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>