Washington DC: A team of scientists has brought the concept of a single vaccine that could protect people from infection by many different viruses closer to the reality.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified "broadly neutralizing" antibodies that protect against infection by multiple, distantly related alphaviruses, including Chikungunya virus, that cause fever and debilitating joint pain. The discovery, in mice, lays the groundwork for a single vaccine or antibody-based treatment against many different alphaviruses.
"There is a lot of emphasis on identifying and understanding broadly neutralizing antibodies for other viruses -- HIV, hepatitis C virus, dengue virus, influenza virus -- but most of those antibodies neutralize different strains of the same virus," said senior author Michael Diamond. "What we've identified here are antibodies that actually neutralize several different alphaviruses."
Researchers have more work to do, but are encouraged that targeting this epitope could be a viable strategy for developing vaccines or treatments against Chikungunya and other related viruses that cause significant disease worldwide, Diamond said.
The research is available online in the journal Cell.