The discovery that naked plasmid DNA can elicit humoral and cellular immunity has prompted the development of genetic vaccines against many viruses for which no prevention currently exists. In the 1 May Journal of Infectious Diseases, Marina Fleeton and colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm suggest the possibility of using the recombinant alpha virus RNA molecule — which replicates in the cytoplasm of transfected cells — as a novel approach in genetic vaccine development.

Fleeton et al immunized mice with recombinant Semliki Forest virus RNA encoding envelope proteins from influenza A, RSV or tick-borne encephalitis virus and found that antigen-specific antibody responses occurred after vaccination. IgG isotyping indicated that predominantly Th1 type immune responses were induced following immunization with RNA encoding the RSV F protein, suggesting protection against RSV infection had been generated. Challenge infection showed that RNA immunization had elicited significant levels of protection against the 3...

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