Scientists at the University of Southampton have made a significant discovery in efforts to develop a vaccine against Zika, dengue and Hepatitis C viruses that affect millions of people around the world.
In a study published in Science Immunology, researchers have shown that natural killer cells (NK cells), which are a fundamental part of the body’s immune system, can recognise many different viruses including global pathogens such as Zika, dengue and Hepatitis C viruses, through a single receptor called KIR2DS2.
Lead researcher Salim Khakoo, Professor of Hepatology, said the findings are very exciting and could change the way viruses are targeted by vaccines but warned that the research is still at an early stage, and animal studies/clinical trials will be needed to test the findings.
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune response to the coat of proteins on the virus enabling the body to fight off the virus and recognise it in the future. However, the viruses are able to change their coat proteins, helping the virus to evade the antibodies, meaning some viruses can be very hard to vaccinate against.
The Southampton team have shown that this NK cell receptor is able to target a non-variable part of the virus called the NS3 helicase protein, which is essential in making the virus work properly. Unlike other proteins, the NS3 helicase protein does not change, which allows the immune system to grab hold of it and let the NK cells deal with the threat.
Professor Khakoo said: “The NS3 helicase protein could be the key in unlocking the defence of lethal viruses that affect so many people around the world. It is very exciting to discover that other viruses similar to Hepatitis C, such as Zika virus, dengue virus, yellow fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and in fact all flaviviruses, contain a region within their NS3 helicase proteins that is recognised by exactly the same KIR2DS2 receptor. We believe that by targeting this NS3 helicase region, we could make a new type of vaccine based upon natural killer cells, which can be used to help protect people from these infections.”
The study, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, analysed DNA from more than 300 patients exposed to the Hepatitis C virus, which showed that the KIR2DS2 receptor was associated with successfully clearing the virus. The team then identified that the immune system targeted the NS3 helicase protein of this using the receptor and found that it prevented the virus multiplying.
They went on to demonstrate that this same mechanism icould be important for many different viruses for example the Zika and dengue viruses, which also contain a region within their NS3 helicase protein that is recognised by the KIR2DS2 receptor.
The researchers now need to determine whether these KIR2DS2+ NK cells are protective during acute flaviviral infections, and are hoping to develop a vaccine that targets natural killer cells. They believe that a similar process could be used to target cancer.
Professor Khakoo added: “Cancer treatments that use the body’s own immune system are becoming more common. Our findings present a completely new strategy for virus therapeutics which could be easily translated into the field of cancer. The next few years are going to be very exciting in this field.”
The Latest on: Vaccine for viruses
- Relaxing the Lockdown: Are We On Track for an Economic Recovery?on May 11, 2020 at 11:13 pm
COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus), has spread across the globe, and as we enter May, several countries and U.S. states are testing ways to relax lockdowns and begin paving the ...
- Disease experts declare it’s time to join forces for multiple COVID-19 vaccineson May 11, 2020 at 11:07 pm
Unprecedented collaborations are neede to create the billions of doses of vaccine needed to stop the coronavirus pandemic, four public-health pioneers say.
- Zika virus linked to significant developmental delayson May 11, 2020 at 10:51 pm
"The research findings reinforce public health concerns during the Zika outbreaks in 2015 and 2016 regarding the severity of disability that children with [congenital Zika syndrom ...
- FAQ: Where Australia's football codes stand on the flu vaccinationon May 11, 2020 at 7:39 pm
Where does each major Aussie football code stand of flu shots? We've compiled a list of how they're handling vaccinations ahead of a return to play.
- Whitmer: Goal is to test 450,000 residents for virus in Mayon May 11, 2020 at 6:53 pm
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she wants 450,000 Michiganders to be tested for the coronavirus this month, an average of nearly 15,000 a day.
- Support for Vaccine Challenge Trials Gains Momentumon May 11, 2020 at 4:03 pm
The idea of deliberately infecting volunteers with SARS-CoV-2 has garnered significant attention as a potential avenue to speedier development, as the World Health Organization weighs in with ...
- Ask the Vet: My puppy had parvo. Is there a vaccination schedule for puppies?on May 11, 2020 at 3:19 pm
My puppy is 5 months old now and has just come home from the vet after being treated for parvo virus. It was really expensive. I can’t believe he got ...
- NIH Director Talks Vaccines, Virus Mutation and Clinical Trialson May 11, 2020 at 2:51 pm
Several vaccines will likely be needed to combat the coronavirus and immunize groups of people in America and abroad, U.S. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said in an interview.
- Vaccine Company Novavax Gets $388 Million Grant For Coronavirus Vaccineon May 11, 2020 at 1:23 pm
CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, has promised the company up to a total of $392 for the development of a vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
- Coronavirus Vaccine: 15,600 People Volunteer To Be Infected With COVID-19 For Treatment Studieson May 11, 2020 at 3:19 am
Close to 16,000 people from 102 countries are ready to volunteer to speed up a vaccine for COVID-19 Volunteers worldwide are now enrolling online for an as yet non-existent "human challenge trial" ...
via Google News and Bing News