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Biologicals. 2001 Sep-Dec;29(3-4):233-6.

Synthetic peptide vaccines: unexpected fulfillment of discarded hope?

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  • 1Pepscan Systems B.V., 8203 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands.


In the early eighties it was realized that the ultimate vaccine would be a synthetic peptide. Major efforts were put into the development of a synthetic vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) for which even today no alternative exists besides the classical vaccine based on inactivated virus. Despite impressive progress, a peptide vaccine that could match the classical vaccine with respect to efficacy (i.e. full protection of all animals after a single vaccination) has not materialized. This has led to the belief that synthetic vaccines were not possible. However, in the early nineties we developed a synthetic peptide vaccine for canine parvovirus that did match the classical vaccine based on inactivated virus (i.e. protected all animals). Based on the difference of FMDV (an RNA virus) and canine parvovirus (a DNA virus), we suggested that in the case of FMDV, more than one antigenic site should be used, instead of the single one used previously. In our opinion multiple sites are necessary to prevent the development of escape mutants of FMDV. Unfortunately, the additional sites of FMDV are highly discontinuous. Until recently it was impossible to reconstruct these sites in the form of synthetic peptides. In the past few years, new methods have been developed that allow recombination of such sites into synthetic molecules. If successfully applied to FMDV, synthetic peptide vaccines and many others may become feasible in the near future. Moreover, the ability to mimic complex discontinuous sites by synthetic peptides will have a major impact on the rapidly developing area of therapeutic vaccines.

Copyright 2001 The International Association for Biologicals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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