Since we have been discussing vaccines a lot recently in lecture and potential vaccine adjuvants have been brought up, I thought I would write a short bit about the research I did this summer which was on a related subject.
The work I did involved Sendai virus, a paramyxovirus which primarily infects rodents. It is in the same family and has a similar pathogenesis as respiratory syncytial virus. Respiratory syncytial virus is a virus of clinical relevance because it is one of the leading causes of respiratory illness and death in young children. Vaccines are currently being developed to prevent the onset of this illness.
I learned during this summer, that during paramyxovirus replication, truncated versions of the viral genome called defective viral genomes (DVGs) are formed as byproducts of replication. DVGs have become a topic of research interest due to their strong immunostimulatory nature. It is believed that Sendai virus DVGs trigger type 1 interferon production through the signaling of RLR proteins, a protein receptor class key for innate immune response. Because of the potent immunostimulatory nature of these defective viral genomes, DVGs are currently being looked at as a potential vaccine adjuvant to help boost the initial immune response to viral infection and expedite the transition from innate to adaptive immunity. Although this approach still has a ways to go before being approved for human use, experiments in mouse models remain promising.
- - Eddie Irvine