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New vaccine could reduce cost and risk.

A common dog disease--Canine parainfluenza--was used to build a new vaccine to protect humans and animals from the rabies virus. Developers at the University of Georgia, Athens, hope the new treatment will reduce costs and increase accessibility to a vaccine for a disease that kills 55,000 people a year worldwide.

Current rabies vaccines use weakened pathogens to develop resistance. The technique of Biao He--professor of infectious diseases and the study's lead author--is different. Using genetic engineering, he and his team of researchers inserted a nonviral piece of the rabies virus into parainfluenza virus 5, called PIV5, which is a virus that causes respiratory infection in dogs. Using PIV5 as a delivery mechanism to expose humans and other animals to important pathogens--rabies in this case--allows them to create antibodies that will protect against future infections. "This could be man's new best friend in delivering vaccines," He states.

According to results published in the Journal of Virology, the vaccine is effective in building immunity. "This is the first report of an orally effective rabies vaccine candidate in animals based on PIV5 as a vector," indicates He, who also is a Georgia Research Alliance distinguished investigator and member of the Faculty of Infectious Diseases. "These results indicate this is an excellent candidate for a new generation of recombinant rabies vaccine for humans and animals, and PIV5 is a potential vector for oral vaccines."

In the U.S., rabies are seen most often in wild animal populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga., reports an average of two human deaths per year from rabies in the U.S. While American death rates are low, rabies is expensive to control. The CDC estimates the disease costs more than $300,000,000 annually, outllays that include the vaccination of companion animals, animal control programs, maintenance of rabies laboratories, and medical expenses.

Humans at risk for contracting rabies, like those who work with wild animal populations, even if immunized need booster shots after the tact if a rabid animal bites them. Humans infected with rabies who have not been vaccinated pay high prices for medical treatment that is time consuming and painful.

"The virus we are using as a vector has been used as a component for kennel cough vaccines, so we know how to mass produce it," explains He. "We also know that manufacturing it won't be a problem in terms of producing a large quantity at a cheaper price. This becomes very important in areas where resources are limited."

Initial results from canine tests look very promising. He hopes the vaccine will be available for animals in three to five years. Human vaccines will take longer. He's lab also is working on vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria using this technology.

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Title Annotation:Rabies
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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