RSV is a major cause of pediatric respiratory tract disease worldwide, but a vaccine is not yet available. It is now possible to prepare live infectious RSV completely from cDNA. This provides a method for introducing defined mutations into infectious virus, making possible the rational design of a live-attenuated vaccine virus for intranasal administration. This is particularly important for RSV, for which achieving the appropriate balance between attenuation and immunogenicity by conventional methods has proven elusive. We took advantage of the existence of a panel of biologically derived vaccine candidate viruses that were incompletely attenuated but well characterized biologically. The mutations in these viruses were identified by sequence analysis and characterized by insertion into recombinant virus, thereby providing a menu of known attenuating mutations. These included a series of amino acid point mutations, mostly in the L polymerase, and a nucleotide substitution in a transcription gene-start signal, a cis-acting RNA element. The second source of mutations was from experimental mutational analysis of recombinant virus and involves deletion of the NS1, NS2, or SH gene. We have reconstructed a previously tested, biologically derived attenuated virus, cpts248/404, in recombinant form and are now proceeding to introduce additional mutations from the menu to achieve stepwise increases in attenuation. The ability to modify the attenuation phenotype incrementally in a directed manner should result in an appropriate vaccine virus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases