Edward Cox (NIAID)
Lesley Pesnicak (NIAID)
This technology describes recombinant viruses that have weakened ability to establish and/or maintain latency and their use as live vaccines. The viruses have one or more genetic mutations that allow for continued replication but that inhibit latency. The vaccine materials and methods for their construction are exemplified with the virus that causes chickenpox and whose latent infection results in shingles, a condition that affects up to an estimated 1 million people per year in the United States alone. Additionally, there are veterinary applications of this technology. Specific examples of gene deletions, modifications, and/or insertions are described. Furthermore, replacement of these deleted genes with other desirable viral antigen encoding sequence(s) and/or cytokine genes in order to enhance a desired immunological response is also described. Aspects of this technology are relevant to other live virus vaccines, thus increasing the safety of such vaccines.