New viral vectors for infectious diseases and cancer

 In Publications

ABSTRACT – Since the discovery in 1796 by Edward Jenner of vaccinia virus as a way to prevent and finally eradicate smallpox, the concept of using a virus to fight another virus has evolved into the current approaches of viral vectored genetic vaccines. In recent years, key improvements to the vaccinia virus leading to a safer version (Modified Vaccinia Ankara, MVA) and the discovery that some viruses can be used as carriers of heterologous genes encoding for pathological antigens of other infectious agents (the concept of ‘viral vectors’) has spurred a new wave of clinical research potentially providing for a solution for the long sought after vaccines against major diseases such as HIV, TB, RSV and Malaria, or emerging infectious diseases including those caused by filoviruses and coronaviruses. The unique ability of some of these viral vectors to stimulate the cellular arm of the immune response and, most importantly, T lymphocytes with cell killing activity, has also reawakened the interest toward developing therapeutic vaccines against chronic infectious diseases and cancer. To this end, existing vectors such as those based on Adenoviruses have been improved in immunogenicity and efficacy. Along the same line, new vectors that exploit viruses such as Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), Measles Virus (MV), Lymphocytic chorio-meningitis virus (LCMV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), have emerged. Furthermore, technological progress toward modifying their genome to render some of these vectors incompetent for repli-cation has increased confidence toward their use in infant and elderly populations. Lastly, their production process being the same for every product has made viral vectored vaccines the technology of choice for rapid development of vaccines against emerging diseases and for ‘personalised’ cancer vaccines where there is an absolute need to reduce time to the patient from months to weeks or days. Here we review the recent developments in viral vector technologies, focusing on novel vectors based on primate derived Adenoviruses and Poxviruses, Rhabdoviruses, Paramixoviruses, Arenaviruses and Herpesviruses. We describe the rationale for, immunologic mechanisms involved in, and design of viral vectored gene vaccines under development and discuss the potential utility of these novel genetic vaccine approaches in eliciting pro-tection against infectious diseases and cancer.

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