Research Articlehepatitis C

Novel Adenovirus-Based Vaccines Induce Broad and Sustained T Cell Responses to HCV in Man

Science Translational Medicine  04 Jan 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 115, pp. 115ra1
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003155

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Hepatitis Hide and Seek

Like venture capitalists and Wall Street bankers, patients receiving results of their blood work don’t like surprises, and more than money is at stake. Because infections caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) frequently are asymptomatic, patients might not know they’ve been infected: Symptoms don’t usually appear until irreversible liver scarring has occurred, which may cause cirrhosis, liver failure, or cancer. Even if infection is caught early, current therapies to combat this stealth virus have serious side effects, and there is no vaccine to prevent or treat HCV infection. Now, Barnes et al. demonstrate that vaccines developed with adenoviral vectors can induce broad and sustained immune responses to HCV in humans.

Adenoviral vectors have shown promise in vaccine trials in animal models; however, preexisting immunity to common serotypes in humans has limited their use. In a phase 1 clinical trial, Barnes et al. vaccinated healthy subjects with two rare serotype adenoviral vectors that expressed an HCV protein. Both the human and the chimp adenoviral vaccinations elicited HCV-specific immune responses in the recipients that responded to multiple HCV antigens, were sustained for at least a year with boost, and elicited memory responses. And the researchers got a surprise they liked: Vaccination primed T cells to respond to multiple HCV strains at a level consistent with protective immunity. Further trials will be needed to confirm protective or therapeutic roles in HCV-infected individuals.

Footnotes

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.