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Protein-based vaccine shows promise against Newcastle

Though not yet commercially available, scientists have engineered a vaccine they say triggers stronger immunity against Newcastle.

Vaccine Creation
brookebecker | Bigstock.com

Scientists have engineered a vaccine they say triggers stronger immunity against Newcastle

The next generation of vaccines might provide better protection against Newcastle disease and other livestock viruses, according to research out of COMSATS University Islamabad.

Prior research completed in 2022 had suggested that taking a protein from the Newcastle virus and engineering it into a vaccine designed to trigger immune responses to that specific protein might provide better protection against the disease, according to Muhammad Asif Rasheed, an assistant professor at COMSATS University. In a follow-up study published late last year, the research team used computer simulations to test more than 5,000 potential protein combinations, ultimately selecting six candidates that show the greatest promise in preventing Newcastle disease, though they say further research is needed to test the vaccine candidates in living animals.

Conventional vaccines, which are used today to prevent Newcastle disease, are created by weakening the virus responsible for the disease and using it to trigger an immune response. In the technique developed by the COMSATS University researchers, computer models are used to identify potential triggers within the immune system itself. Proteins from the virus are then added to a vaccine that is engineered to deliver those proteins to the immune system trigger points.

Other research has shown that this vaccine strategy reduces the biohazard associated with working with live viruses, may create enable the creation of more targeted vaccines and, as found by the COMSATS University team, may trigger stronger immunity. The engineered vaccines may also provide longer-lasting immunity against viruses, including Newcastle, that tend to mutate frequently, rendering existing vaccines less effective.

It will still take some time to bring one of these engineered, protein-based vaccines to market for the prevention of Newcastle disease, Rasheed said. However, his team noted in their research paper that the computer modeling technique used to identify potential vaccine candidates could be used to develop vaccines for a variety of other diseases, which could make it easier to develop vaccines against a host of ailments in the future.

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