DNA Vaccine For Tick-Borne Disease Ticks All The Boxes

A team of scientists in South Korea has developed a DNA vaccine that completely protected ferrets from severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome.

AsianScientist (Oct. 4, 2019) – Using a DNA vaccine, researchers in South Korea were able to prevent severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in ferrets. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

SFTS is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by the severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV). The virus has been endemic to East Asia, but the spread of ticks to North America increases the likelihood of outbreaks beyond the region. The World Health Organization has also put SFTSV into the ‘priority pathogen requiring urgent attention’ category.

Giving the virus the attention it needs is a research group led by Professor Park Su-Hyung at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea. Noting how DNA vaccines induce broader immunity to multiple antigens than traditional ones because they stimulate both T cell and antibody immunity, the scientists sought to develop a DNA vaccine against SFTSV.

They constructed DNA vaccines that encode full-length genes based on common sequences of 31 SFTSV strains isolated from patients. To investigate the vaccine’s efficacy in vivo, the researchers applied their prophylactic to a recently developed ferret model that recapitulates fatal clinical symptoms in SFTSV infection in humans. Vaccinated ferrets were completely protected from lethal SFTSV challenge without SFTSV detection in their blood, whereas all control ferrets died within ten days of the start of infection.

The researchers further discovered that antibodies targeting the SFTSV shell, or envelope, play an important role in protective immunity, suggesting that envelope glycoproteins of SFTSV may be the most effective antigens for inducing protective immunity. The study also revealed that T cell responses specific to non-envelope proteins of SFTSV can contribute to protection against SFTSV infection.

“This is the first study demonstrating complete protection against lethal SFTSV challenge using an immunocompetent, middle-sized animal model with clinical manifestations of SFTSV infection. We believe this study provides valuable insights into designing preventive vaccines for SFTSV,” said Park.

The article can be found at: Kwak et al. (2019) Development of a SFTSV DNA Vaccine That Confers Complete Protection Against Lethal Infection in Ferrets.


Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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