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Developing a Vaccine for the Epstein-Barr Virus

  • Researcher: Professor Christian Münz
  • Institution: University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Award Amount: £202,386 for 3 years from June 2014
  • Cancer Type: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Developing a Vaccine for the Epstein-Barr Virus
With the recent success of the cervical cancer vaccine which protects against the HPV virus, scientists are turning their attention to other cancer-causing viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Professor Christian Münz is already making progress. Using a specially developed mouse model, he is looking at different ways of trying to activate the immune system into fighting EBV.EBV is a very common herpes virus which most of us carry our entire lives without any problems. However for some the virus can trigger cancer. EBV is thought to cause up to 200,000 cases of cancer worldwide every year, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, nose and throat cancer, and stomach cancer.* With the help of an earlier Worldwide Cancer Research grant, Professor Münz has already found two specific types of molecule which can prime the immune system for EBV attack. He and his lab now want to build on this success and will use his latest grant to try and find a third potential vaccine component, one which trains a special type of white blood cell (called a killer T-cell) to find and destroy EBV infected cells. After this, the next step is to develop a vaccine ‘prototype’ by mixing all three vaccine components in a specially developed formulation, and then test this formulation against EBV in the mouse model. * Statistics from Cancer Research UK Press Release (March 2014).
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