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2nd Epstein-Barr Virus Vaccine Candidate Launches Phase 1 Study

May 6, 2022 • 11:26 am CDT
(Precision Vaccinations News)

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced that it launched an early-stage clinical trial to evaluate an investigational preventative vaccine for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

EBV is a member of the herpes virus family and is a cause of infectious mononucleosis.

The Phase 1 study, conducted in Bethesda, Maryland, is one of only two studies to test an investigational EBV vaccine in more than a decade.

The experimental vaccine was developed by the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases in collaboration with NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center.

“A vaccine that could prevent or reduce the severity of infection with the Epstein-Barr virus could reduce the incidence of infectious mononucleosis and might also reduce the incidence of EBV-associated malignancies and autoimmune diseases,” stated NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., in a press release issued on May 6, 2022.

Led by principal investigator Jessica Durkee-Shock, M.D., of NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, the study will evaluate the safety and immune response of an investigational EBV gp350-Ferritin nanoparticle vaccine with a saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant.

The Matrix-M adjuvant was developed by the biotechnology company Novavax, based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The adjuvant is intended to enhance the immune response induced by the investigational vaccine.

The vaccine works by targeting EBV glycoprotein gp350, found on the virus's surface and in virus-infected cells.

EBV gp350 is also the primary target for neutralizing antibodies found in the blood of people naturally infected with EBV.

Ferritin, a natural iron storage protein found in cells of all living species, is considered a promising vaccine platform because it can display proteins from the targeted virus in a dense array on its surface.

The initial EBV vaccine candidates from Moderna, Inc. mRNA-1189 dosed its first participant in January 2022.

EBV is also associated with several malignancies, including stomach and nasopharyngeal cancers and Hodgkin and Burkitt lymphomas, and autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis.

According to the NIH, approximately 1% of all EBV-infected individuals develop serious complications, including hepatitis, neurologic problems, or severe blood abnormalities.

NIAID conducts and supports research to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing, and treating these illnesses. 

Note: This NIAID announcement was edited for clarity and manually curated for mobile readership.

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