Research ArticleNipah Virus

A Hendra Virus G Glycoprotein Subunit Vaccine Protects African Green Monkeys from Nipah Virus Challenge

Science Translational Medicine  08 Aug 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 146, pp. 146ra107
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004241

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The Ecology of Disease

As people expanded their settlements further and further into the flying fox territory, no one could have suspected that the furry fruit-loving bats carried deadly viruses that can cause human epidemics with mortality rates approaching 100%. The recently discovered (and closely related) Nipah and Hendra viruses can infect humans and a wide range of other species, including domestic animals such as horses, pigs, and dogs; and Nipah is known for person-to-person transmission. Since their discovery in the 1990s, outbreaks have been reported nearly every year, particularly in Bangladesh, India, and Australia, and no effective treatment or prevention method currently exists. Now, Bossart et al. show that a vaccine targeting both viruses shows full protection against Nipah virus in a nonhuman primate model.

Nipah virus infection in African green monkeys results in symptoms similar to human disease, with severe involvement of the lungs and brain, and multiple other organ systems, leading to a universally lethal outcome. Here, a recombinant vaccine made from the attachment envelope glycoprotein of Hendra virus is used to prevent infection in the monkeys. The animals are vaccinated with this glycoprotein at a range of doses, but the authors find that even the lowest dose they use provides full protection from Nipah virus challenge. In contrast, the control monkey quickly develops diffuse organ involvement and lethal disease, consistent with historic data. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using immunization to prevent infection with Nipah virus and advance the vaccine one step closer to clinical trials in human subjects.