New enterovirus vaccine passes animal tests: researcher

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An enterovirus vaccine developed in Taiwan has proved highly successful in the animal testing stage and is set to proceed to human clinical trials. (Photo courtesy of CNA, 2018.3.30)

Taipei, March 29 (CNA) An enterovirus vaccine developed in Taiwan has proved highly successful in the animal testing stage and is set to proceed to human clinical trials, a researcher at the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) said Thursday.

The vaccine, which is administered nasally, gave 100 percent protection to the animal test subjects after two doses, Joe Yen-hung Chow (周彥宏), a researcher at NHRI’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The aim is provide protection against at least six different types of enteroviruses, preventing initial symptoms and death from severe cases, Chow said.

He said that with the success of the animal testing, clinical human trials are expected to begin at the end of the year and hopefully the vaccine will become available on the commercial market in four years.

The research team found out that both the enterovirus 71 (EV71), the common culprit in severe enterovirus cases, and the coxsackieviruses rely on a nonstructural protein to replicate in the human body, Chow said.

If the human body can instantly discover this non-structural protein and destroy it when the virus infects, it can avoid virus replication and effectively kill the virus, he said.

With that in mind, the research team developed a multivalent vaccine that can be administered nasally to offer protection against coxsackieviruses A16 (CVA16), A10 (CVA10) and A6 (CVA6), as well as EV71 sub-genotypes B4, C4 and C2, Chow said.

On the question of why the vaccine was made to be administered nasally, he said viruses often infect the mucous membrane first, therefore, if the vaccine is introduced into the nose, the mucosa will produce an immune response to the particular non-structural protein.

According to Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), enterovirus outbreaks are most prevalent around the world in summer and early autumn, with the major symptoms being mouth blisters and hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Last year, 15,290 patients sought outpatient or emergency treatment at hospitals around Taiwan for enterovirus infections in the one-week period ending Sept. 9, according to the CDC.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and William Yen)