Plasmid-only rescue of influenza A virus vaccine candidates

Abstract

The potential threat of another influenza virus pandemic stimulates discussion on how to prepare for such an event. The most reasonable prophylactic approach appears to be the use of effective vaccines. Since influenza and other negative–stranded RNA viruses are amenable to genetic manipulation using transfection by plasmids, it is possible to outline new reverse genetics–based approaches for vaccination against influenza viruses. We suggest three approaches. First, we use a plasmid–only rescue system that allows the rapid generation of high–yield recombinant vaccine strains. Second, we propose developing second–generation live influenza virus vaccines by constructing an attenuated master strain with deletions in the NS1 protein, which acts as an interferon antagonist. Third, we suggest the use of Newcastle disease virus recombinants expressing influenza virus haemagglutinin proteins of pandemic (epizootic) strains as novel vaccine vectors for use in animals and possibly humans.