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Viral Nucleic Acids

Viruses contain nucleic acid as RNA or DNA. These molecules possess all the genetic information of the virus. Research involving the use of viral nucleic acid products, are becoming increasing popular. This is due to their easy handling in low containment laboratories thus avoiding the restrictions associated with the handling of hazardous pathogens at Containment Level 3 or 4.

Studies on virus nucleic acid products for the development of vaccines holds great promise in terms of safety and cost as nucleic acids have the reduced risk of becoming pathogenic. DNA vaccines have an added advantage of high stability. A few DNA vaccines are already in late stage development and may soon be approved for use. These include ASP0113, a vaccine for the prevention of CMV reactivation in CMV-seropositive recipients of an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

Viral nucleic acids are also important in drug development. Plasmids containing segments of viral genome are used in the construction of pseudotype viruses. The entry of these synthetic viruses into host cells and their subsequent interactions with immune proteins provides information on potential drug targets for novel therapeutics. They are also a useful tool in serology tests for vaccine development. Pseudotype viruses bearing envelope proteins of viral haemorrhagic fever viruses have been successfully developed. These include systems bearing the envelope proteins of Lujo virus and severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus which are emerging infectious diseases.

NCPV supports the scientific community with interests in Containment Level 3 and 4 pathogens by supplying viral nucleic acids from these viruses making them available for research that can be carried out in ACDP Containment Level 2 laboratories. 


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  1. Tani, H. (2014). Analyses of Entry Mechanisms of Novel Emerging Viruses Using Pseudotype VSV System. Tropical Medicine and Health, 42(2 Suppl), 71–82.
  2. Saade, F., & Petrovsky, N. (2012). Technologies for enhanced efficacy of DNA vaccines. Technologies for enhanced efficacy of DNA vaccines. Expert Review of Vaccines, 11(2), 189–209.
  3. 3.    Mori, T., Kanda, Y., Takenaka, K. et al. (2017) Safety of ASP0113, a cytomegalovirus DNA vaccine, in recipients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation: an open-label phase 2 trial. International Journal of Hematology. 105(2): 206 - 212
  4. Urbanowicz, R. A., McClure, C. P., King, B., Mason, C. P., Ball, J. K. & Tarr, A. W. (2016). Novel functional hepatitis C virus glycoprotein isolates identified using an optimized viral pseudotype entry assay. The Journal of General Virology. 97, 2265-2279.


January 2020