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J Virol. 2011 Dec;85(23):12781-91. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00794-11. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Vesicular stomatitis virus-based vaccine protects hamsters against lethal challenge with Andes virus.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Andes virus (ANDV) is a highly pathogenic South American hantavirus that causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). A high case fatality rate, the potential for human-to-human transmission, the capacity to infect via aerosolization, and the absence of effective therapies make it imperative that a safe, fast-acting, and effective ANDV vaccine be developed. We generated and characterized a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vector expressing the ANDV surface glycoprotein precursor (VSVΔG/ANDVGPC) as a possible vaccine candidate and tested its efficacy in the only lethal-disease animal model of HPS. Syrian hamsters immunized with a single injection of VSVΔG/ANDVGPC were fully protected against disease when challenged at 28, 14, 7, or 3 days postimmunization with a lethal dose of ANDV; however, the mechanism of protection seems to differ depending on when the immunization occurs. At 28 days postimmunization, a lack of detectable ANDV RNA in lung, liver, and blood tissue samples, as well as a lack of seroconversion to the ANDV nucleocapsidprotein in nearly all animals, suggested largely sterile immunity. The vaccine was able to generate high levels of neutralizing anti-ANDV G(N)/G(C) antibodies, which seem to play a role as a mechanism of vaccine protection. Administration of the vaccine at 7 or 3 days before challenge also resulted in full protection but with no specific neutralizing humoral immune response, suggesting a possible role of innate responses in protection against challenge virus replication. Administration of the vaccine 24 h postchallenge was successful in protecting 90% of hamsters and again suggested the induction of a potent antiviral state by the recombinant vector as a potential mechanism. Overall, our data suggest the potential for the use of the VSV platform as a fast-acting and effective prophylaxis/postexposure treatment against lethal hantavirus infections.

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