If this research leads to vaccines that protect against CMV (cytomegalovirus) it will be a very important and welcome development for the transplant community. CMV can be life-threatening for immune suppressed patients following an organ transplant. After my lung transplant 9 years ago my blood tests showed positive for CMV and I had to stay on anti-viral medications for a full year before I became negative for the infection.
by Tom Foot - Islington Tribune
ONE of the most common viral infections could be cured by a new vaccine being developed by the UCL and doctors at the Royal Free Hospital.
One hundred and forty liver and kidney transplant patients at the Hampstead hospital were recruited to a clinical trial aiming to halt Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – from the herpes family – in hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
Experts say the “statistically significant” results, published in the Lancet journal this week, indicate a major breakthrough.
Professor Paul Griffiths, of the UCL Centre for Virology and honorary consultant at the Royal Free, said: “Many scientists thought that it would be impossible to make a vaccine against CMV. The virus works by evading the immune system, so they reasoned it would also evade a vaccine.”
He added: “This study shows that at least one vaccine preparation can moderate the severity of CMV infection. We expect that a vaccine could help other groups vulnerable to CMV, such as pregnant women.”
CMV – known as the “toll of transplantation” – affects around six out of every 10 adults in this country. As with most other herpes-type viruses, once you are infected with CMV it will stay in your body for the rest of your life. It is spread through bodily fluids, such as saliva and urine and passed on through close bodily contact.
Congenital CMV, when a woman becomes infected during pregnancy and passes the infection on to her unborn baby, can also have serious consequences.
From the 140 transplant patients in the trial, the vaccine was found to have the interrupted transmission of virus from donor to recipient.
Professor Griffiths said: “Based on these results, we conclude that it could be possible to make a vaccine against CMV that is able to protect against this important pathogen for transplant patients, as well as women of childbearing age whose unborn babies can be damaged by CMV.
“We hope these results will encourage multiple pharmaceutical companies to accelerate development of their CMV vaccine candidates for both groups of patients.”
For more information go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/cytomegalovirus