Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Vanderbilt scientists contribute to finding that could lead to the first effective RSV vaccine

Vanderbilt University scientists have contributed to a major finding, reported today in the journal Nature, which could lead to the first effective vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a significant cause of infant mortality.

The Vanderbilt scientists and others analyzed in an animal model a new method developed at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, Calif., for designing artificial proteins capable of stimulating an immune response against RSV.

The virus, which worldwide causes nearly 7 percent of all deaths among children ages 1 month to 1 year and is the leading cause of hospitalizations among children under 2, has been notoriously resistant to vaccine-design strategies.

"This project is the first work in which a protein that was designed on a computer has been shown to work as a vaccine candidate for a human pathogen," said Vanderbilt's James Crowe, M.D., Ann Scott Carell Professor and a leading RSV researcher.

"We believe this will be one of the principal ways that vaccines are designed and made in the future," said Crowe, also professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

TSRI scientists, led by senior author William Schief, Ph.D., used a "rational design" approach that focused on specific binding areas (epitopes) on the virus.

Virtually all existing viral vaccines use whole (killed or weakened) virus particles or entire viral proteins to stimulate antibody reactions. These vaccines display virtually the same large set of viral epitopes that the immune system would encounter during a natural infection. Yet some viruses, including RSV, conceal their vulnerable epitopes.

Scientists can sift through blood samples of virus-exposed patients to find the rare, "broadly neutralizing" antibodies that hit those vulnerable epitopes. They also know how to map the precise atomic structures of these antibodies and their corresponding epitopes using X-ray crystallography.

"What we haven't been able to do is to take that information about broadly neutralizing antibodies and their epitopes and translate it into effective, epitope-focused vaccines," lead author Bruno Correia, Ph.D., a member of the Schief laboratory at the time of the study, said in a news release.

The TSRI scientists developed a new software app, "Fold from Loops," to design proteins that folded around their functional fragments more naturally in a way that mimicked the viral epitope and which could serve as a key component of an effective vaccine.

In rhesus macaque monkeys, whose immune systems are quite similar to humans,' the designer "immunogen" proteins showed great promise. After five immunizations, 12 of 16 monkeys were producing robust amounts of antibodies that could neutralize RSV in the lab dish.

Analyses of the animals' immune responses were performed in the laboratories of Philip Johnson, M.D., at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, and by Crowe and postdoctoral fellow John T. Bates, Ph.D., in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, which Crowe directs.

Former Vanderbilt faculty member Barney Graham, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, also participated in the analyses.

Having proven the principle of epitope-specific design, Schief and his colleagues now hope to produce a working RSV vaccine. "We're also trying to improve this protein design method further and apply it to other vaccine projects, including HIV and influenza vaccines," he said in a news release.

Craig Boerner | Vanderbilt University
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht High-arctic butterflies shrink with rising temperatures
07.10.2015 | Aarhus University

nachricht Long-term contraception in a single shot
07.10.2015 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

Im Focus: High-speed march through a layer of graphene

In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.

Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

NASA provides an infrared look at Hurricane Joaquin over time

08.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Theoretical computer science provides answers to data privacy problem

08.10.2015 | Information Technology

Stellar desk in wave-like motion

08.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>