$3.9 Million Dollar Grant Awarded For Cytomegalovirus Vaccine Development

Minnesota CMV vaccine researchers receive NIH funding

happy healthy family with new baby

A researcher at the University of Minnesota (U of M) Medical School has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for $3.9 million dollars to conduct research studies of novel vaccine strategies for cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Currently, there is not a CMV vaccine licensed for human use.

This announcement published on September 4, 2019, is good news since CMV is the most common infection that causes birth defects and disabilities in babies in the United States. 

Nationally, about 1 baby in 100 is born with CMV. Infants that are CMV infected in utero could be born with birth defects and disabilities. 

Out of the 7 billion people in the world, it’s estimated that more than 5 billion have been, or will be, infected with CMV. 

Furthermore, the National Academy of Medicine has identified a CMV vaccine as being the ‘highest public health priority for any new vaccine.’

“CMV has coevolved with people since the advent of humankind,” said Mark R. Schleiss, M.D., Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, U of M, in a press release. 

“A vaccine for CMV would be a huge public breakthrough and save the healthcare systems billions of dollars every year.”

Most people who contract CMV sometime after birth have no symptoms and don’t even know they have it. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids.

“You aren’t going to get it riding the Green Line,” Dr. Schleiss said.

Schleiss concluded saying that ‘young women who have children can get CMV from their toddlers in daycare. One of the most common ways infants can contract the virus is from breastfeeding.’

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine news

CMV is a common pathogen and member of the herpesvirus family. CMV is a common virus that infects people of all ages, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Using a guinea pig model of congenital CMV infection, Dr. Schleiss and his team intend to examine the use of recombinant techniques to modify the immune modulation genes encoded by CMV that impair the protective immune response. 

This research will be working toward a better understanding of how to prevent congenital transmission of infection.

Previous research had shown that within a single individual HCMV has high genome (genetic) diversity, leading to theories that HCMV has a high mutation rate.

However, instead, the frequent occurrence of mixed-infections caused by genetically different HCMV strains leads to findings of high genome diversity within an individual.

Additional research collaborators include Dr. Craig Bierle and Drs. Adam Geballe (University of Washington) and Mike McVoy (Medical College of Virginia).

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CMV news published by Precision Vaccinations