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UGA Researchers' Findings: Canine Parainfluenza Virus leads to Breakthroughs in Human Vaccines

Mighty dogs to the rescue. Once again, our canine companions are assisting in providing invaluable medical advances to mankind.  Previous studies have shown that dogs can detect early stages of cancer as well as super bug infections in patients with hospital acquired infections. Now comes another gift from Man's Best Friend!
Beagles to the rescue


Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that a virus commonly found in dogs, the parainfluenza virus (PIV5), could serve as the foundation for the next great breakthrough in human vaccine development. PIV5, which does not cause disease in humans, contributes to upper respiratory infections in dogs, and therefore is  targeted in many canine vaccines.  As the virus does not affect humans, researchers turned their eyes towards it as a potential delivery mechanism for human
 vaccines against diseases that have previously alluded  development.

Science has successfully used viruses to create vaccines in the past, although for some perilous pathogens it has been difficult develop an effective vaccine.  Such pathogens include most notably HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. The researchers at UGA have found that by placing antigens from other viruses or parasites inside PIV5, it effectively becomes a delivery vehicle that exposes the human immune system to specific pathogens, which in turn allows our immune systems to create the antibodies that protect against future infection.

Said Biao He, Professor of Infectious Disease at UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine and lead researcher,  "We can use this virus as a vector for all kinds of pathogens that are difficult to vaccinate against.  We have developed a very strong H5N1 flu vaccine with this technique, but we are also working on vaccines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria."


This technique ensures full exposure to the vaccine, and is much safer, as it does not require the use of attenuated, or weakened, pathogens. Using this approach, an HIV vaccine delivered by PIV5 would contain only those parts of the HIV virus necessary to create immunity, making it impossible to contract the disease from the vaccine.


It is estimated that 34 million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus, with 3.3 million of them under the age of 15.  The leading cause of death for people living with HIV is tuberculosis.  These exciting findings bring new hope to areas of the world lacking the educational resources to help combat the spread of these diseases.

To learn more about the study click here to visit Science Daily.com's article.

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