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J Virol. 2006 Sep;80(17):8653-63.

Rational design of genetically stable, live-attenuated poliovirus vaccines of all three serotypes: relevance to poliomyelitis eradication.

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NIBSC, South Mimms, Herts, UK.


The global eradication of poliomyelitis caused by wild-type virus is likely to be completed within the next few years, despite immense logistic and political difficulties, and may ultimately be followed by the cessation of vaccination. However, the existing live-attenuated vaccines have the potential to revert to virulence, causing occasional disease, and viruses can be shed by immunocompromised individuals for prolonged periods of time. Moreover, several outbreaks of poliomyelitis have been shown to be caused by viruses derived from the Sabin vaccine strains. The appearance of such strains depends on the prevailing circumstances but poses a severe obstacle to strategies for stopping vaccination. Vaccine strains that are incapable of reversion at a measurable rate would provide a possible solution. Here, we describe the constructions of strains of type 3 poliovirus that are stabilized by the introduction of four mutations in the 5' noncoding region compared to the present vaccine. The strains are genetically and phenotypically stable under conditions where the present vaccine loses the attenuating mutation in the 5' noncoding region completely. Type 1 and type 2 strains in which the entire 5' noncoding regions of Sabin 1 and Sabin 2 were replaced exactly with that of one of the type 3 strains were also constructed. The genetic stability of 5' noncoding regions of these viruses matched that of the type 3 strains, but significant phenotypic reversion occurred, illustrating the potential limitations of a rational approach to the genetic stabilization of live RNA virus vaccines.

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