Virus found in dogs may fuel new vaccines

A virus found in man's best friend may offer a platform for developing a potent human vaccine.

Researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens (UGA) discovered a virus commonly found in dogs that could provide a safe vehicle in which to deliver pathogens to the human immune system, allowing it to create antibodies to protect against future infection. Parainfluenza virus 5, or PIV5, is harmless to humans but contributes to upper respiratory infections in dogs.

The human immune system recognizes and destroys the virus, so researchers believe that PIV5 could act as a vessel to carry antigens from other viruses or parasites. The research was published in PLoS One.

"We can use this virus as a vector for all kinds of pathogens that are difficult to vaccinate against," Biao He, the study's principal investigator and a professor of infectious diseases in UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a release. "We have developed a very strong H5N1 flu vaccine with this technique, but we are also working on vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria."

The approach proves safer than some other options because humans get full exposure to the vaccine without the use of weakened pathogens. Only the parts of a virus necessary to create immunity are used, meaning people can't contract the disease from the vaccine. PIV5 could provide the pathway to immunity against diseases that have eluded vaccine efforts for years.

- see the release
- read the PLoS One paper