EBV vaccines in Animals


For many years the MS community has been extremely sceptical about the importance of EBV in the cause of multiple sclerosis, but following a couple of papers last year (one compelling, the other not really) and the MS World woke up to stuff prof G has been banging on about for years. Moderna who have made a COVID-19 vaccine have an EBV vaccine in trial. Here they look at another vaccine that is experimental, but shows potential.

It seems, according to ProG that Moderna’s vaccine covers this one, so it will be a me-too if there is success or shotdown in flames if the Moderna vaccine fails.

Malhi H, Homad LJ, Wan YH, Poudel B, Fiala B, Borst AJ, Wang JY, Walkey C, Price J, Wall A, Singh S, Moodie Z, Carter L, Handa S, Correnti CE, Stoddard BL, Veesler D, Pancera M, Olson J, King NP, McGuire AT. Immunization with a self-assembling nanoparticle vaccine displaying EBV gH/gL protects humanized mice against lethal viral challenge. Cell Rep Med. 2022 Jun 8:100658. doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100658. 

They say “Here, we evaluate the immunogenicity of several gH/gL nanoparticle vaccines. All display superior immunogenicity relative to monomeric gH/gL. A nanoparticle displaying 60 copies of gH/gL elicits antibodies that protect against lethal EBV challenge in humanized mice, whereas antibodies elicited by monomeric gH/gL do not. These data motivate further development of gH/gL nanoparticle vaccines for EBV”.

A nano particle is a tiny particle like a spot of dust that they can stick things on and here they put bits of EBV on it. As you can see if they stick a load of EBV bits on it  they can detect protection in meeces that have been humanised to allow them to be infected with EBV. This is done because the virus,  doesn’t normally infect mice. So a step in the right direction.

However, it kind of points out the differences that we may face in the UK verses elsewhere, in this case the USA. This experiment was given ethical approvals and I am not questioning the value of the work but use it to inform you of the landscape that we work in, in the UK.

If we were to do this this experiment in the UK, it could be hard to get approval for this?


Because we (in the UK) have a more regulated use of animals in research and whilst we may persuade a local ethical review committee to have a lethal outcome as part of the experiment, the Government inspectors would ask why you have to have animals dying and why does it have to be a lethal infection? Animals will suffer if they die and so we would have to establish endpoint points for the experiment before death occurs and tone the severity down to avoid the deaths. Tone it down in MS research and it may not.work well enough to spot differences without using a lot of animals. However doing unusual research runs the risk that the data will not be accepted by the academic community, who are wedded to their standard procedures and don’t have Government Inspectors and the Law breathing on their necks.. Therefore if it comes to the issue that you can’t disseminate the work, it becomes pointless doing it. We have encountered this view when trying to publish experimental MS work using non standard outcomes

Lethal and other severe experiments like EAE (Animal MS-like diseae) have a lot of scrutiny. Importantly if a death occurs and it is not predicted/predefined then each death has to be individually reported even when it is of “natural causes”.  So you don’t want any deaths .

We had an Home Office Animal inspector who appeared to think they were Sherlock Holmes and would want to investigate each and ever death and sadly when you do MS research, sometimes animals may die due to their neurological illness, even with your best efforts to limit this.

The technology wasn’t really there to send an alarm when there was a risk to an individual animal in group housed animals although we worked out how to do it.  However, the cost of the available equipment was prohibitive to implement [@ more than £1000 (non-recyclable chip) per animal] and it was not really fit for purpose to do it in a scale suitable for MS research within a standard animal house.

When the Home office had us working overnight every night, which we believed and later showed was counter-productive, it was time for a change. 

In some places you get 5 days a  week science but animals have to be checked multiple times daily and that’s weekends and holidays, a thankless task.

Now there are very, very few people in the UK working with animals on MS research. Sadly MS research is moving East and West and out of the UK:-(. I guess there are consequences of being a Nation of animal lovers and I’m not talking about.people in wellies where there definitively should be consequences 🙂

CoI None

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  • This doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, I like animals but I like eating them too. Personally I don’t see the difference in using animals l for food and using it for science. It can’t be great for a fish to be hauled out of the sea to suffocate to death.

    Could it be possible that advances in medicine would have been greater if trails were permitted in animals more closely resembling humans? Like chimps.

  • If i remmember correctly Ebv establish a latent infection in b cells an some mucosal tissue

    After some period of time (sometime years ) the virus may reactivate following some kind of trigger

    Since antibodies allways wane how do you see the usefullness off antibodies based vaccines?

    Also like in the case of hiv Ebv vaccines should provide steralizing immunty (prevent infection)

    I think there no vaccine available in the world right now that pervent infection of any virus


    Nice post

    • Well said Luis.

      And what do they currently use to essentially “prevent” HIV……antivirals.

      Interestingly, I was unable to get the shingles vaccine before starting CLAD, so an organ transplant doctor suggested antivirals as a prophylactic.

      But even if antivirals do work in some capacity to help MS, we are still left with a damaged CNS. Sucks!

  • It IS unfortunate. Not to sound cold or indifferent, but they are animals. No one says anything about the videos and television shows they watch of animals in the wild being ripped apart by larger animals. No one really decries that as vicious cruelty. You might say that isn’t the same thing. And yes, it is a stretch… but I’m trying to make a point. It’s about survival. We obviously can’t experiment with people, and all that is left that is close enough to us are animals. Maybe someday when AI is much better and quantum computing becomes the norm, then possibly we may be able to take animals out of the equation and do all experiments virtually. But until then the animals are the best shot we have.

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