Researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) College of Veterinary Medicine are investigating how a respiratory virus found in dogs, and harmless to humans, could be used to produce effective vaccines against a range of illnesses including H5N1 influenza.
Canine parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) is a common target for canine vaccines designed to prevent kennel cough. The human immune system is able to recognize the virus without causing illness. UGA researchers are exploiting PIV5 as a delivery vehicle to expose humans to other important pathogens to create antibodies that will protect against future infection.
Using viruses as a delivery mechanism for vaccines is typically difficult when a strong immunity to the virus is pre-existing, causing the ‘delivery vehicle’ to be destroyed too quickly. UGA’s research demonstrates PIV5 is still effective as a delivery mechanism even though many animals and humans already carry antibodies against it.
“We can use this virus as a vector for all kinds of pathogens that are difficult to vaccinate against,” said Biao He, the study’s principal investigator and professor of infectious diseases in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We have developed a very strong H5N1 flu vaccine with this technique, but we are also working on vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.”
Read more on this research at PLOS One: Evaluating a Parainfluenza Virus 5-Based Vaccine in a Host with Pre-Existing Immunity against Parainfluenza Virus 5